The Holy Father made headlines around the world when he announced that he would join the social media website Twitter last December.
The initiative was wildly successful, with the Pope’s English Twitter account, @Pontifex, gaining more than 1.6 million followers in less than three months. The Pontiff posted 39 tweets in a total of nine languages.
Just hours before stepping down from the papacy, Benedict XVI sent out his final tweet: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.”
While the @Pontifex account has been cleared of content and will now become dormant until the next Pope decides whether he wishes to adopt it, Benedict XVI’s tweets can live on for the faithful as powerful reminders of his witness to the Gospel message in modern times.
As of 8 p.m. Rome time, when the Holy Father’s resignation officially went into effect, these are the 12 papal tweets that had received the most retweets on Twitter:
1) “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.” -Dec. 12, 2012 (The Pope’s first tweet!) Retweets: 64,612
2) “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.” -Feb. 28, 2013 (The Pope’s final tweet!) Retweets: 28,072
3) “Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you” -Dec. 12, 2012 Retweets: 25,612
4) “We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful” -Dec. 12, 2012 Retweets: 19,266
5) “May Our Lord bless you and watch over you in the new year.” -Jan. 1, 2013 Retweets: 19,134
6) “We must trust in the mighty power of God’s mercy. We are all sinners, but His grace transforms us and makes us new.” -Feb. 10, 2013 Retweets: 16,450
7) “Everyone’s life of faith has times of light, but also times of darkness. If you want to walk in the light, let the word of God be your guide” -Dec. 19, 2012 Retweets: 14,101
8) “By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need” -Dec. 12, 2012 Retweets: 12,258
9) “Every human being is loved by God the Father. No one need feel forgotten, for every name is written in the Lord’s loving Heart.” –Jan. 30, 2013 Retweets: 11,615
10) “During the season of Lent which begins today, we renew our commitment to the path of conversion, making more room for God in our lives.” –Feb. 13, 2013 Retweets: 11,180
11) “When we entrust ourselves to the Lord completely, everything changes. We are children of a Father who loves us, and never leaves us.” -Jan. 2, 2013 Retweets: 11,157
12) “If only everyone could experience the joy of being Christian, being loved by God who gave his Son for us!” -Feb. 27, 2013 Retweets: 11,025