According to a statement from the Vatican’s press office, the meeting was set up so the two figures could talk about “how to use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and help deliver a message of hope, especially to those people who are most disadvantaged.”
For his part, Zuckerberg ditched his standard outfit of a hoodie and a gray shirt and dusted off his prom suit for the occasion. He also came bearing an unusual gift: a miniature model of Facebook’s solar-powered aircraft, Aquila.
Earlier this year, Facebook managed its first successful test flight with Aquila. The solar-powered UAV, with a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737 jet, will eventually stay airborne for months at a time and use a system of lasers to deliver a wireless internet signal to areas that are currently without access.
Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook (where else?) that it was an “honor to meet Pope Francis. “It was a meeting we’ll never forget. You can feel his warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people.”
Pope Francis has proven to be a surprisingly tech-friendly figure in the Vatican. He is active on social media, especially Twitter and the Facebook-owned Instagram. Pope Francis has also met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, former Google CEO and current executive chairman of Alphabet Eric Schmidt, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom, and took time to host a round table discussion with YouTube stars.
Despite his constant presence on social media, Pope Francis doesn’t have a Facebook account. In 2014, the Catholic Church’s media strategy team cited concerns about abusive comments as its reason to avoid the platform.
Perhaps that’s the real reason Zuckerberg made to the trip to the Vatican; his site might have over one billion daily active users, but there’s just one user that he has yet to lure in. The Pope may be Zuck’s white whale.