Villanovans Contribute to Vatican’s Social Media and Web Presence

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12.12.12 - Through an exclusive internship program with the Vatican, Villanova Communication and Computer Science students from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are helping change the ways in which the Vatican communicates with the rest of the world – through the Internet, multi-media technology and social media.

The Vatican recently announced that Pope Benedict XVI will tweet in eight languages using his own new personal Twitter handle, @Pontifex. On Wednesday, Dec. 12, the Pope will officially launch this Twitter handle by responding live to questions about faith during his weekly general audience.

Villanova Communication majors interning at the Vatican have helped play a role in the launch of the Pope’s new Twitter account. This work has included researching Twitter accounts of other major world figures to better understand their purpose, use and potential impact. Through this research, the students were able to offer consultation on the Papal Twitter account. Additionally, these interns are helping prepare for the Dec. 12 launch – researching what the public is saying about the new Papal Twitter account and what possible questions may be asked, as well as filtering through the questions sent to #askpontifex for the official launch. 

In addition to their contribution to the Papal Twitter account, these interns are also adding significant content to The Vatican’s other social media platforms. They are taking photos and video at Papal events for use on Facebook and Twitter, and have filmed and edited video for The Vatican’s YouTube channel. The students have also done research on Vatican News’ Facebook Page (News.Va) in order to identify additional ways to draw more viewers to the page and all parallel Vatican websites and social media sites. 

Villanova’s Department of Computing Sciences is presently placing interns with three offices at the Vatican: the Internet Office in the Vatican City Telecommunications Department, Vatican Radio, and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. These Computer Science interns work on a rich variety of technical projects, including content and infrastructure for Vatican websites, news aggregation services, mobile application development, virtual reality, network security and Java development. This fall, Computer Science students have been working with Vatican Radio on a mobile app for its technical staff to manage news aggregation services.

Villanova began its distinctive Vatican Internship Program in 2003, sending Computer Sciences students to the Internet Office of the Holy See. Since then, Communication majors have joined these students in Rome. In 2008, Villanova began sending Communication majors to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Communication students are also interning in the Rome bureau of Catholic News Service (CNS). 

Villanova’s Vatican interns in Communication and Computing Sciences have also contributed to the collaborative effort between Villanova University and the Vatican to bring the papal basilicas in Rome to a worldwide audience – through the creation of virtual reality tours of the Vatican’s most sacred sites:

To create these tours, students and faculty from Villanova were granted rare clearance to photograph some of Rome’s most sacred, and restricted spaces. Anyone with access to a computer can now tour some of Italy's most historic cathedrals.

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