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Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 4, 2012. (STEFANO RELLANDINI/REUTERS)
Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 4, 2012. (STEFANO RELLANDINI/REUTERS)

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U.S. ad startup blessed by Twitter handle that resembles the Pope’s Add to ...

A New York-based mobile advertising startup is fortunate, maybe even blessed, by its Twitter handle, but confesses: It is not the Pope.

The company, Pontiflex, has seen a groundswell of followers in recent days, many of whom appear to be mistaking its Twitter name @pontiflex with the closely spelled @pontifex, which is used by Pope Benedict XVI.

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“We are deeply humbled by the surge of new followers today. But if you’re looking for tweets from the Pope, please follow @pontifex,” the company said Monday as the Vatican officially began tweeting to Roman Catholic followers.

The term pontifex comes from Latin, and means a member of the Pontifical College presided by the pontiff. Pontiflex, meanwhile, was derived from French: “pont is the French word for bridge, and we borrowed flex from flexible. Put them together and you have flexible bridge,” the company website says.

The real feed from the Vatican had garnered more than 427,000 followers after its first day. Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Pontiflex had just 1,280 but was growing also, with some reports saying the company was gaining 75 to 100 an hour.

The company seized the moment to gain publicity, if not righteousness.

“Mobile Apps Gets Papal Blessing,” the company blog trumpeted.

“Now we are just waiting for the Vatican to release the Pope’s top 10 favourite mobile apps! You will definitely hear about that @pontiflex.”

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