Pope's first tweet to go live today - 12.12.12

At the beginning of December, Pope Benedict XVI joined Twitter, using the name @Pontifex. Today - 12 December 2012 - he will start tweeting. And the world awaits his very first words posted on the social network.

Since joining, Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger - the current Pope's real name - has amassed more than 650,000 followers on his English-language account alone. He also has accounts in seven other languages, including Spanish (@Pontifex_es) and Italian (@Pontifex_it), which many Catholics around the globe speak. These help bring his overall followers to  more than a million.

We can only speculate what his first words on Twitter will be, but followers have been urged to ask the Pontif questions over the last couple of weeks by including the hashtag #askpontifex. Some have been serious, some frankly offensive, and some funny, but the idea of being able to communicate directly with the Pope has excited those in the Catholic faith greatly.

Pope Benedict XVI is no stranger to technology, of course. Last year, he switched on the lights of the world's biggest Christmas tree overlooking the Italian town of Gubbio using a Sony Tablet S Android device.

Today's momentous tweet will be followed every Wednesday by a new message from the Pope.

UPDATE The Pope's first tweet has gone live, and he thanks his followers for their words. "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart," he wrote.

And, in the last hour, he's followed up that opening gambit with a couple of others, which you can check out on his feed. Maybe he'll get the Twitter bug and post more often than the previous expectation of once a week.

Pic: (cc) Catholic Church (England and Wales)