POPE Benedict XVI, leader of the Catholic Church has set up his own Twitter account spreading the Catholic faith 140 characters at a time.

The religious leader has gained more than 350,000 followers in just under 24 hours.

Rather than stick to a more obvious Twitter handle such as @pope, Pope Benedict will be tweeting under the name of @pontifex, which is a word stemming from Latin origins meaning a member of the highest council of priests in Ancient Rome and ‘bridge-builder’.

Father John Reville, parish priest of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Royal Wootton Bassett, thinks it is an excellent idea.

“It’s a good way to spread the message of the Catholic Church, and for people to interact with him who will never meet him or get the chance to meet him or speak to him in person," he said.

Although he’s not likely to be tweeting One Direction congratulating them on their performance last night at the Royal Variety Show, The Vatican have announced the 85-year-old will begin with a question and answer session on December 12, where his followers will have the opportunity to interact with him and ask him questions.

It is also believed he will be tweeting his words of wisdom in six different languages.

It comes after other well-known figures have taken to Twitter such as Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama.