While it wasn’t exactly a full-on crossover event, it was certainly a meeting of epic proportions when His Holiness Pope Francis met with Spider-Man. In fairness, it wasn’t the ACTUAL Spider-Man. It was actually an incredibly charitable person who dresses up as the web crawler to visit sick children. It was the actual Pope though, which still makes this meeting its own kind of awesome.
A quick look through the Instagram account of Mattia Villardita will show you a number of heartwarming photos from across the last two years of him dressed up as the Wall-Crawler and being hugged by children. He also shows up for a number of other photo shoots and does a damn good job at striking some pretty limber Spidey poses.
Mattia has really embraced the persona; even his Facebook page has taken on a Spider-Man theme, emblazoned with the phrase, “Da un grande potere derivano grandi responsabilita.” It doesn’t take a multi-linguist to guess that this is Italian for the iconic phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And while Mattia may not have superpowers, he does have the physique to pull-off Spidey’s sleek and trim appearance; and he’s obviously putting that to good use in the suit.
Being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man apparently does not go unnoticed in Italy though as Mattia was given a VIP seat in the courtyard of San Damaso and had a chance to meet with the pontiff. Mattia, in full costume, gave Pope Francis a mask of his own, though sadly if the Pope did try on the mask, there’s no footage of it.
This is not the first time that Mattia Villardita was honored for his contributions to charity. Last year he was given an award by the president of Italy for giving his time and persona to make the lives of sick children a bit happier.
Mattia’s story in itself is interesting. His inspiration for dressing up as Spider-Man came from when he was 20-years old and had to have multiple surgeries performed on his leg. The amount of time he spent in the hospital made him reflect on the small things in life and ultimately led to him donning a costume he used for a party and using it to visit kids in need of a smile.
Cheers to you Mattia for giving light in the midst of darkness and smiles in the midst of sorrow.