Emoji are the new emoticons, and a recent spate Pope emoji makes it very clear why these pictogrammatic doodads are so hot. While you can easily make smily faces and even (not so easily) various cute animals using keyboard characters, constructing an emoticon of Pope Francis could be a challenge. (If you know how, please show us in the comments section below!)
Besides, Pope Francis is considered to be the first social media savvy pontiff. With more than seven million followers, he ranks at Number Two on Adweek’s list of world leaders in the Twittersphere (the Pope’s handle is @Pontifex). Emoticon’s are old-school — this pope is keen to keep up with his peeps.
So, apparently, is the global Catholic network Aleteia.org, which commissioned the first ever set of Pope emoji, aptly named Popemoji. The set came out a couple of weeks in advance of the Pope’s U.S. visit and contains 52 stickers and 14 animated GIFs of Pope Francis.
Popemoji show the pontiff in the cities he plans to visit, including New York…
and Philly (yes, that’s a steak sandwich)…
and even tweeting!
The emoji set also includes stickers of the Pope doing some of his favorite things (taking selfies, playing soccer) and at various U.S. landmarks (the Statue of Liberty, Lincoln Memorial and Liberty Bell).
“If he was a very stoic kind of pope like we’ve seen so many times in the past, it probably wouldn’t work,” Kathleen Hessert of Sports Media, the company that oversaw the app’s creation told Mashable. “Pope Francis is a down-to-earth guy.”
Twitter and Snapchat jumped on the papal bandwagon a little later. On the Tuesday prior to the Pope’s arrival in the U.S., Twitter released a set of pope emoji that automatically insert themselves in tweets carrying the hashtags #PopeInUS, #PopeInDC, #PopeInNYC and #PopeInPhilly.
If you search Twitter for any of these hashtags, you’ll see a sprinkling of papal emoji. And if you should know any teens who use Snapchat, you might be able to catch an image with that social app’s pope overlay: