Pope Francis has got to be the most memeable pope in history. That might have something to do with starting a tenure during the peak of the social media age. Or that he’s more “open” to contemporary beliefs than his predecessors.
The point is Internet culture has a soft spot for the 86-year-old pontiff. Just ask the guy who created what some have dubbed the “Balenciaga Pope,” which features the church leader in a white puffer jacket.
It’s a solid drip and totally fake, created by 31-year-old construction worker Pablo Xavier from Chicago using an AI art tool, Midjourney. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Xavier said he was tripping on shrooms when he created the image and didn’t expect it to go viral.
“I just thought it was funny to see the Pope in a funny jacket,” said Xavier.
Now, we can discuss the consequences of AI all day, what it means when we can no longer discern fake from reality (spoiler: it’s scary as hell), and all other kinds of doomsday scenarios. But there are enough of those discussions if you doom scroll long enough. We’re here to laugh about hypebeast memes, and Pope Francis has a couple of good – and vaguely sacrilegious – ones that people genuinely enjoy.
So put away your tinfoil hats, and enjoy the rest below.
The Pope’s tablecloth trick
You’ve probably seen the vid before: Pope Francis supposedly walks up to a table and pulls the cover effortlessly without spilling the contents on top. Cue “The Next Episode,” and the clip is one of the best iterations of the “Thug Life” meme ever.
While we’d like to imagine that the Pope’s hands are #blessed enough to pull the trick, this one’s fake too. The parody vid is from the Ellen Degeneres show, and the original merely shows the pontiff bowing in front of the table.
I’m a Jesus Man. But I’m not Jesus, Man. 😇🎤 #PopeBars pic.twitter.com/IQjuszdIgt— Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll) November 30, 2015
Being the head of the largest religious organization in the world means you’ll talk. A lot. So it’s understandable that Pope Francis has been snapped enough times looking like he’ll be dropping the hardest mixtape since Creation.
#PopeBars gets resurrected occasionally and sees the Internet dropping Bible-inspired verses, all in good fun. Heck, even Lin Manuel Miranda couldn’t help but pitch in.
Lyrical cataclysm— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) November 30, 2015
Smack em w that epistle
Back to the Vaticizzle#PopeBars
Coldest rapper to ever call Rome my home/ Rhymes so real Moses could set em in stone #PopeBars @netw3rk pic.twitter.com/2zjhE71XIc— Sam Johnson (@sgjohn_vt) November 30, 2015
Pope be like: “Pack it up, pack it in. Let me begin. I came to win, battle me, that’s a sin.” pic.twitter.com/RNzlbGuo3R— Patrick (@patvandiest) April 30, 2017
What’s a hustler without his ride, right? In all seriousness, Pope Francis was once gifted a custom Lamborghini Huracan RWD as part of the car brand’s “Ad Personam” program. The paint job mimics the pontiff’s white and gold cassock and the Vatican flag. The one-off car was also blessed by the Church leader, who adorned his signature on the hood.
The Pope didn’t keep it in his garage tho, as it was later auctioned off between an estimated $303,000 – $425,000, with all of the proceeds going to charity.
The Pope’s Japanese Coat
When he visited Tokyo’s St. Mary’s Cathedral, the pontiff was gifted a coat bearing an anime-style figure of himself. It was also adorned with cherry blossoms and Japanese phrases such as “gratitude,” “let’s pray together,” and “let there be peace.”
The attire, apparently called a “happi,” is worn during festivals and special occasions.
Look, we’ll admit: the photo above has us stumped. Unlike “Balenciaga Pope,” we don’t actually know this meme’s original creators, only that those fictional sneakers look dope as hell.
But if we are talking about an IRL scenario, Pope Francis did receive a personalized Nike Blazer Mid 77’ Vintage pair. The customs are in white/yellow, referencing the pontiff’s flag, and feature his name at the back and his coat of arms on each side.
The sneakers were gifted by a certain Fr. Jim Sichko, who wanted to stand out among the millions of visitors the Vatican receives in a year.
Presented Pope Francis today with customized KICKS by TRUE BLUE CUSTOMS! @Pontifex pic.twitter.com/tl7fyd7WZ5— Father Jim Sichko (@JimSichko) October 12, 2022