The photo, which was posted Monday to the unofficial account, was captioned “First #selfie,” causing many news outlets and social media users to report that the selfie was authentic.
It was billed as Pope Francis’ “first selfie,” drawing thousands of likes and hundreds of gushing comments after it was posted to an Instagram account bearing the Vatican’s name.
But according to Mashable, it turns out the purported pope selfie is, in fact, “a holy fake.”
The image of the smiling pontiff was taken from a video chat Francis participated in last year.
The Instagram account, @Vatican__, posted it Monday along with the caption, “First #selfie #popeFrancis,” generating more than 8,000 likes while duping news outlets, including CNN and Yahoo News. (The account, which has more than 140,000 followers, describes itself as “the official [Instagram] of the Holy See.” The Vatican’s verified Instagram feed has less than 50,000 followers.)
While Pope Francis may not have taken the world’s first papal selfie, he’s ushered in plenty of other firsts, including becoming the first pontiff to tweet.
His first tweet, published four days after he was elected to the papacy, racked up more than 20,000 likes and more than 34,000 retweets.
Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me. Pope Francis.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) March 17, 2013
“Dear friends,” Francis wrote on Twitter. “I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me.”
His English-language Twitter feed, @Pontifex, has more than 8 million followers, though when combined with the Latin, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, Portugese and Arabic versions, His Holiness’ Twitter following is about 20 million.