Papal "selfies" sprout up on social media

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis is the leader of an ancient church, but he's learned to use the most modern communications to spread his message.

He has 23 million followers on Twitter in nine languages -- he's among the most re-tweeted leaders in the world -- and he calls the Internet a gift from God.

From the moment the pope walked out of the Vatican Embassy Wednesday morning, every step was captured on a smartphone. The elusive papal "selfie" was the real prize.

Sixteen year old Enija Davidonyte, of Lithuania, got one of the first selfies with the pope and posted it to her Facebook page along with the message, "I feel absolutely blessed!"

One boy was all smiles on Instagram and another girl got the pope's back -- literally. One man bent over backwards to get a shot of the pope.

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On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands mentioned the pope on social media using hashtags such as #PopeInUS and #WalkWithFrancis.

At the official White House welcoming ceremony, people far from center stage -- and those close enough to use the pope and the president as a backdrop -- wanted to prove they were there with him.

Even celebrities like Eva Longoria posted from the White House lawn.

One could almost watch the papal parade from a network of cell phones.

Those who were too far away to actually see the pope made the best of it -- posing with Francis toys, a painting, or their own pet dog.

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When else would you see a group of nuns tailgating? It seemed everyone wanted to be a part of the moment.

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One boy posted his crayon written letter: Pope Francis, we pray for you. We believe.

  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor and Managing Editor, "CBS Evening News;" Correspondent, "60 Minutes"