In surely what must be the most unlikely meeting of 2021 so far, Pope Francis has just met Spider-Man himself.


A man dressed in a full-blown Spider-Man costume attended Pope Francis’s general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday, June 23. It’s unclear whether he’d driven there, or simply swung his way in.

Seated beside a black-clad priest in the sombre VIP section in the Vatican’s San Damaso Courtyard, Spidey looked more than a tad out of place, but the Pope seemed to take it all in his stride.

Photos show Pope Francis greeting the iconic comic book character, with Spidey gifting the 84-year-old his very own Spider-Man mask. Whether or not he will wear it during his holy duties remains to be seen.

In a heart-warming turn of events, the man inside the Spider-Man suit would appear to be a real-life superhero in his own right. The man in question is 27-year-old Mattia Villardita, from northern Italy, Reuters reports.

Mattia was quite rightly honoured with a place in the VIP section on account of his efforts working with sick children in hospitals, visiting them while clad in superhero costumes.

Just last year, Italian President Sergio Mattarella awarded Mattia for his caring work, appointing him as Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, La Stampa reports.

Mattia, who has reportedly had health problems since birth, was awarded for his ‘altruism and imaginative initiatives,’ which have helped to ‘alleviate the suffering of the youngest hospital patients’.