June 28th, 2011
03:16 PM ET
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
(CNN) - Twitter has welcomed a new user - one who already has more than one billion followers.
Pope Benedict XVI used Twitter to announce the launch of a new Vatican website, timed to coincide with Wednesday's 60th anniversary of his ordination as a priest.
The website, News.va, showed a photo of the pope with what appeared to be an iPad.
"The pope sent it, but it was prepared for him," Benedict's spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told CNN. "The tablet was presented to him. He did the click and sent the tweet."
It was the pope's first tweet, Lombardi confirmed.
"Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI," the message said.
The pope himself may be new to Twitter, but the Vatican has been reasonably web-savvy for years, including launching an iPhone app and a Facebook page for the beatification of Pope John Paul II this year.
Benedict's tweet came on the English news feed for the Vatican, @news_va_en, which picked up about 22,000 new followers after the tweet, nearly tripling its number of followers.
The head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, previewed the new website on Monday, saying it would bring together all the Vatican news outlets in one place.
At launch, it included a scrolling lead spot that showed the pope sending his tweet and a countdown clock to his his trip to Madrid - for which the Vatican has put up yet another website, Madrid11.com.
Joseph Ratzinger - the pope's name before he assumed the throne of St. Peter - was ordained a priest on June 29, 1951, at the age of 24.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.