The very online folk will know that the “Pope Francis Holding Things” meme isn’t new. It’s been around for years. However, in recent days, the meme has been given new life thanks to a Twitter feature that allows users to go wild and tweet videos, images, and GIFs—all in one tweet. Although the rise of the meme was probably not the use case Twitter envisioned, it has delighted countless users on the platform, where joy has a tendency of being in short supply.
This past Wednesday, the social media platform released a new feature known as “mixed media,” which allows folks to do exactly what it says: add and mix up to four different types of visual media content in tweets. Using the feature is very simple. As explained by Twitter, all you need to do is tap the “media” and “GIF” icons when composing a tweet and select the content you want to add.
“We’re always looking for new and exciting ways to help creators share more and be seen,” Twitter said in a blog post introducing the feature. “Mixing different types of visual content together in a single Tweet allows creators to express themselves beyond 280 characters and gives them more ways to tell their story.”
In a funny plot twist, although Twitter was obviously excited to release the feature, probably to distract from its drama with its potential future owner Elon Musk, it doesn’t seem to have anticipated that users would seize upon this newfound power to bring back the “Pope Francis Holding Things” meme.
Case in point: In its blog post, Twitter shared examples of creators using the mix media feature in pretty basic ways. One example it included was from photographer Jake Chamseddine, who shared a gorgeous photo he took of Panic! At the Disco and the unglamorous work required to take it side by side. While that was cool—and props to Chamseddine for his amazing work—it didn’t bring me joy.
Twitter included many other examples of mixed media being used to create photo vs. the moment tweets. Another featured Bobby Witt Jr. of the Kansas City Royals getting absolutely drenched by a teammate with a water cooler. Again, cool! Nice. This ignited a flicker of joy, but nothing substantial.
There are many other ways to use the feature, Twitter told me in an email. Users can share sports highlights, K-Pop groups can provide tour highlights, and you can even add memes with GIF reactions side by side.
While all of those examples were A-OK, they are nothing compared to how users made the feature their own with the “Pope Francis Holding Things” meme. The photo used in the meme is from 2013 and taken when Pope Francis was giving communion and holding a Eucharist wafer, according to Know Your Meme. Over the years, the wafer has been replaced with numerous things, such as Taylor Swift CDs, albums, and Baby Yoda, as the meme has come in and out of style.
In this iteration, the meme was given the holy power of GIFs and videos. Some users used the meme to pray for visuals from Beyonce’s new “Renaissance” album.
Others thought it might be interesting to show the Pope squeezing garlic. Why? I have no idea.
The Pope was also seen squeezing soap.
And, by far my favorite, holding a twerking SpongeBob SquarePants.
All in all, using Twitter’s mixed media feature on the meme was a welcome and joyful distraction from a week full of, well, not pleasant things. I could name them, but that would stress me out, and I’m quite content after looking at all these “Pope Francis Holding Things” memes on Twitter.
At this point, it appears that the meme is losing steam. Given its longevity, I have no doubt it’ll pop up again sooner or later. Big takeaway: Users have a knack of using features in ways you didn’t intend them to. That’s OK though, because sometimes the results are delightful. Other times that results are scary as hell, but thank God (lol) that wasn’t the case here. So far, at least.
Click through to check out some of the best of “Pope Francis Holding Things” moving memes on Twitter, featuring Groot, Denali Foxx from RuPaul’s Drag Race, a brain cell that looks like a lemon, and many more.