Far from home? Spider-Man drops in at the papal audience

June 24, 2021 - 12:38 PM
Pope Francis greets a person dressed as Spider-Man after the general audience, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at the Vatican, June 23, 2021. (Reuters/Remo Casilli)

VATICAN CITY — A different type of participant dropped in on Pope Francis‘ general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday – Spider-Man.

A man dressed in a full, skin-tight, red, black and blue costume of the comic book and film character – including head cover – sat in the VIP section of the audience in Vatican’s San Damaso Courtyard.

He sat quietly next to a priest dressed in black who appeared to be unperturbed by the colorful character with big white eyes in the next seat.

The man behind the mask turned out to be Mattia Villardita, 27, from northern Italy. He was given a place in the VIP section because of his work dressing up in superhero costumes and visiting sick children in hospitals.

At the end of the audience, he was introduced to the pope and gave the pontiff a Spider-Man mask.

Last year, Italian President Sergio Mattarella gave Villardita an award for his work with sick children. —Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson