ROME – By now, Pope Francis’s novel use of media should surprise no one – except, perhaps, his official PR personnel, who are constantly being caught off guard by papal interviews, soundbites and messages they didn’t know were coming, so they’re forever scrambling to catch up.

The latest chapter in this pope’s maverick approach to communications came Thursday, when he agreed to a do an impromptu Facebook live with an Italian Franciscan priest named Father Enzo Fortunato, a well-known personality in Italian media who runs the press office of the basilica and Franciscan friary in Assisi.

He’s also co-host of a weekly program on Italy’s national television broadcaster, RAI, called In Cammino, or “On the Way.”

Fortunato long has been an admirer of Pope Francis, whose most recent book, Processo a Francesco (“Francis on Trial”), compares judgments faced by St. Francis of Assisi during his lifetime, including internal tensions that led to his resignation as head of the new Franciscan order, to the criticism that has dogged the pontiff over the course of his papacy.

Fortunato has an active Facebook account with more than 231,000 followers, and is in the habit of frequently posting live messages, referring to his viewers as brava gente (“good people”), which is also the title of Fortunato’s personal web site.

The phrase brava gente is also evocative in the history of St. Francis. Tradition holds that when he took refuge in the Italian community of Poggio Bustone in 1208/1209 after renouncing his father’s inheritance, he was in the habit of taking walks through town and greeting people by saying Buongiorno, brava gente!

On Thursday, Fortunato was joined by a surprise guest: Pope Francis, speaking from his residence in the Vatican’s Domus Santa Marta. Fortunato explained in an accompanying message that he visited the pope along with a pilot and Italian airline official who’s accompanied the pope on overseas trips named Aldo Cagnoli.

Fortunato introduced the brief, two-minute video by calling it a “moment of grace.”

“What we’re about to experience is a moment of grace, a surprise,” he said. “We’re with Pope Francis, and I told him that every evening you pray for him, that the good people pray for him. And so, I asked the Holy Father for his blessing and a thought on what it means to be nourished by the Word of God every day.”

A seemingly tired but still animated Pope Francis then responded.

“Good evening, good people,” the pope said. “Is it true that you’re good? That’s what Father Enzo told me.”

“Thanks for your work and for wanting to nourish yourselves with the water that is the Word of God,” Francis said. “If we lack water, things don’t work. The Word of God is like water, it’s life, it’s always with us and it makes us grow. Go forward with the Word of God, don’t leave it behind, and keep being good people.”

The video concludes with Francis delivering a blessing, and with Fortunato requesting viewers to pray for the pope and the church.

Before ending the live, Francis can be heard asking Fortunato “how many?”, apparently in reference to how many people were watching the live broadcast – to which the answer, according to Facebook, was 1,600.

According to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the video marked the first time a pope has taken part in a live social media broadcast that wasn’t conducted by one of the Vatican’s own official platforms.