Vatican launches inquiry after Pope Francis' Instagram account 'likes' Brazilian bikini model

Nick Squires
·2-min read
Bikini model Natalia Garibotto - Instagram
Bikini model Natalia Garibotto - Instagram

A Brazilian bikini model has joked that she is “going to heaven” after a photograph of her in a skimpy schoolgirl outfit was ‘liked’ by the official Instagram account of Pope Francis.

The Vatican has launched an investigation into how the papal Instagram account, Franciscus, ended up ‘liking’ the risqué image of Natalia Garibotto.

Vatican officials want to know how the embarrassing endorsement happened, amid speculation that someone in the Holy See’s communications team may have accidentally pressed the ‘like’ button while browsing the model’s extensive gallery of images.

The photograph in question shows 27-year-old Miss Garibotto standing in front of a school locker, wearing a cropped white shirt and a revealing tartan skirt.

Pope Francis has millions of followers on Instagram and his other social media accounts - Shutterstock
Pope Francis has millions of followers on Instagram and his other social media accounts - Shutterstock

“At least I’m going to heaven,” the model commented on Twitter after receiving the ‘like’ from the Pope’s Instagram account on November 13.

She also joked: “Be right back, on my way to the Vatican.” The papal ‘like’ was canceled a day later.

Pope Francis is highly active on social media. He has 7.4 million followers on Instagram but does not follow any other Instagram profiles.

On Twitter, he tweets in several languages, including English, Spanish and Italian. His Twitter account in English has more than 18 million followers.

But he is understood to rarely engage in social media himself – that is handled instead by a communications team.

A Vatican official insisted, however, that the ‘like’ had not come from a member of the communications department.

He told The Telegraph that the Holy See “has asked Instagram for a detailed explanation” about the incident.

But the endorsement – whether inadvertent or not – has done no harm to Miss Garibotto, who has 2.4 million followers on Instagram. Her management firm made the most of the mix-up, claiming it had received “the Pope’s official blessing.”