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Spider-Man Pays Pope Francis A Visit At The Vatican

Pope Francis receives a Spider-Man mask from a person dressed as Spider-Man at the Vatican, June 23, 2021. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

Away from the cinematic world of Marvel, Spider-Man dropped in on Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.

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Mattia Villardita, 27, from northern Italy 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 colourful character with big white eyes in the next seat.

A person dressed as Spider-Man sits among faithful listening to Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in the San Damaso courtyard at the Vatican, in this still image taken from video June 23, 2021. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

A real life superhero, Villardita, 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.

Villardita took selfies with youngsters attending the audience in a Vatican courtyard.

“The real superheroes are the children who are suffering and their families who are fighting with so much hope,” Villardita told the Vatican’s media outlet, Vatican News.

Mattia Villardita dressed as Spider-Man at the Vatican, June 23, 2021. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

The Vatican described Villardita as ‘really a good super-hero’ and quoted him as saying that during Italy’s long months of pandemic lockdown he made more than 1,400 videocalls, since he wasn’t able to visit in person, to help ailing children smile.

Villardita, who has a day job in a terminal shipping company in Italy’s northwestern Liguria region, leads an association for other hospital volunteers who dress up as superheroes.

Last year, Italian President Sergio Mattarella gave Villardita an award for his work with sick children.

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