Pope Francis Stars in New Lineup of Emoji

Set of cartoons for messaging apps celebrates US visit by depicting Pontiff in variety of roles

Pope Francis Stars in New Lineup of Emoji

Jeffrey Bruno/ALETEIA

Pope Francis won’t be coming to the US for another 10 days, but already he’s all over the news. And pretty soon, he will be all over digital messaging.

Thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Aleteia, a keyboard full of “PopeEmoji” is being released today and will be available via free download from Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

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Swyft Media designed the little cartoon characters depicting Pope Francis in iconically American settings: standing next to the Statue of Liberty or visiting the Liberty Bell.

They’re not all sober poses. There are also imaginative ones like Francis being buoyed in a crowd of teenagers a la rock concert crowd surfing, tossing a pigskin, and taking selfies with admiring fans.

The emoji can be used with iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, LINE, WeChat or any other number of messaging apps.

Commissioned as a part of a “Good is Winning” initiative by global Catholic network Aleteia.org, the PopeEmoji keyboard features 52 emoji and 14 GIFs of the Pope and is available for iOS and Android.

“Emoji are so ingrained in digital and social language, particularly among young people, that it was natural to make them an element of our digital effort to support Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S.,” said Kathleen Hessert, founder of Sports Media Challenge, which is overseeing the digital aspect of Aleteia.org’s effort. “Besides, the Pope has a great sense of humor, is totally approachable and dedicated to engaging people where they communicate.

Hessert says the goal of engaging millennials is to “enable new conversations” throughout the papal visit and keep that community involved in a dialogue over the long term.

Aleteia’s “PopeIsHope Digital Street Team” hopes to capture the spirit of how Pope Francis interacts with crowds in each of the cities he visits: Washington, New York and Philadelphia. The team plans to use digital storytelling to inspire young people to be a part of a “Good is Winning” movement–before, during, and after the historic visit–by highlighting acts of courage, dignity, kindness, and mercy in everyday life.  

“We understand what kind of content millennials and young consumers want, and more importantly want to share, and we’re very excited that Swyft Media’s technology is at the center of one of the biggest events of the year in the U.S.,” said Evan Wray, co-founder and vice president at Swyft Media. “What better way to bring such a monumental event to the digital generation than through emoji that capture the personality and sentiment of such an important figure. Pope Francis is a larger-than-life individual and the stickiness and viral effect of this campaign should be off the charts.”

To get the free Popemoji, follow these steps:

1) Find the Popemoji in the Google Play Store  and  at the iTunes App Store.
2) Download the Popemoji keyboard application for your mobile device
3) Follow these simple instructions to enable your Popemoji keyboard
4) Use Popemoji in your messages and posts on your favorite messaging and social networking applications