It’s not every day Spider-Man swings into the Vatican. But the superhero made a surprise showing there Wednesday during the pope’s weekly general audience. Spidey shook Pope Francis’ hand and presented him with a face mask patterned after the Marvel character’s classic red suit.
The guy in the Spidey getup was 28-year-old Matteo Villardita, an Italian who visits sick children in hospitals after having undergone several childhood surgeries of his own for a congenital condition. Villardita told AP TV he gave Pope Francis the mask “as a sign, to tell him that through these eyes I daily see pain from sick children in hospitals.”
During a general audience, the pope delivers a themed speech, followed by prayers, a homily and singing. And he offers blessings to those in attendance, including web-slinging superheroes already endowed with special talents. Among the faithful who lined up in San Damaso Courtyard for face time with the pontiff, Villardita unsurprisingly grabbed the most attention. Other attendees applauded Spidey and snapped his photo after he met with the pope.
“But the real superheroes are the children who are suffering and their families who are fighting with so much hope,” Villardita told the Vatican’s media outlet Vatican News. Villardita founded Supereroincorsia, a group of volunteers who dress up as heroes to bring cheer to pediatric patients.
During Wednesday’s audience, as Vatican News recounts, Pope Francis began a new cycle of catechesis dedicated to themes proposed by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians.
In the epistle, noted the pope, St. Paul makes many biographical references that allow us to understand his conversion and his decision to place his life at the service of Christ. St. Paul also touches on important subjects such as freedom, grace and the Christian way of life — topics that “touch on many aspects of the life of the church in our times.”
The pope did not mention Marvel or the upcoming.