Spider-Man Swung by The Vatican to Meet Pope Francis

Spider-Man Swung by The Vatican to Meet Pope Francis

06/23/2021

An extra special guest received an invite to Wednesday’s general audience at the Vatican and stole Pope Francis’ shine—Spider-Man.

Rocking his usual attire with red and blue webbed skin and bright white eyes, the colorful character sat amongst unfazed priests in the official VIP section. At the end of the meeting, Spider-Man gifted Francis with a spare of his iconic Marvel mask.

Though the costumed character was cheered on and given lots of attention by the crowd on his way out, the man behind the mask was actually just a not-so-typical Italian guy named Mattia Villardita, 27.

Last year, Villardita received an award from Italian President Sergio Mattarella for donning the superhero outfit to visit children suffering from terminal illnesses in the pediatric wards of area hospitals. His invite from the Vatican this year was for him to receive special recognition from the Pope for his philanthropy.

Born with a congenital malformation, Villardita explained to CNA that he, himself, was a patient for 19 years at a pediatric hospital. His experience with multiple surgeries spending months in recovery rooms helped him to help these children and their families.

His work started in 2019 with the launch of his project, “Superheroes in the Ward,” where he and his friends dress as popular characters to cheer up the sick children. At his meet-and-greet with the Pope, the hero told Francis all about the families he encounters daily.

So, yes, it may not be exactly as it meets the eye; Pope Francis wasn’t meeting with Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, or Tobey Maguire. But at the end of the day, he was meeting with a real-life superhero nonetheless.

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