The Pope posted the message on his Instagram account

Pope Francis has asked the Catholic faithful to “continue to pray for (him)” in a social media post today, the fourth anniversary of his election as Pontiff.

The Pope posted a photograph of himself praying on the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica on Instagram, where he has 3.6m followers.

The Pope’s Instagram post

The remark echoes the Pope’s first statement on the balcony after his election. He said at the time: “I hope this journey of the Church that we begin today will be fruitful for the evangelisation of this so beautiful city.”

He added: “Thank you so much for the welcome. Pray for me. We’ll see each other soon.”

Pope Francis and top members of the Roman Curia returned from their annual Lenten retreat on Saturday, at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat centre in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome, and the following day the Pope visited the Rome parish of St Magdalene of Canossa.