The Pope also received a Spider-Man at Wednesday’s audience at the Vatican. He had taken a seat in the dignitaries’ section, which included sitting next to a cleric dressed in black, who didn’t seem at all surprised by his masked neighbor’s sleek red, black, and blue attire. Some observers were very surprised at the arrival of the cartoon character in the stately courtyard of San Damaso, in the Papal Palace.
But Italian media reports that Pope Francis’ special guest is 27-year-old Mattia Villardita. He had to undergo surgery until he was fourteen because of a congenital defect.
Later, as Spider-Man, he went to visit seriously ill patients in hospitals to relieve their suffering. He received a high award from President Sergio Mattarella for this at the end of last year.
Villardita came up with the idea for his portrayal of Spider-Man more than two years ago during a conversation with the director of a children’s hospital. Villardita is also the founder of ‘Supereroincorsia’ (Superheroes in the Unit), a group of young people who volunteer and provide moments of light-heartedness to young patients like cliniclowns.