Spider-Man swings into the Vatican to meet Pope Francis

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, he showed up at the Vatican. And gave the pope a Marvel face mask.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
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  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Leslie Katz
2 min read

The web slinger gets face-to-face time with Pope Francis. 

Franco Origlia/Getty Images

It's not every day Spider-Man shows up at the Vatican, so when the superhero slung by there Wednesday during Pope Francis' weekly general audience, it got some people's senses tingling -- in a good way. Spidey shook the pope's 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 Italian Matteo Villardita, 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 lassoed 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 Spider-Man 3