His Holiness Pope Francis I: Meet the first South American Catholic Pontiff


White smoke billowed out of the Sistine Chapel chimney on Wednesday, March 13th, signifying the end of the 2013 Papal Conclave and the reign of a new pope. Roughly 75 minutes later, the new pope emerged: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio will be known as Pope Francis I. Thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City to watch the 76-year-old archbishop emerge onto the balcony, walk through the red curtains and accept the role of the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Tauran announced “Habemus Papum” — “We have a pope” — to the crowd surrounding the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, revealing the new pontiff. Francis had allegedly finished second in the 2005 Papal Conclave that produced Benedict XVI, who became the first pope to willingly step down from the position in the past 600 years.

Francis is making history himself, becoming the first pope ever from the Americas, and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He studied at the Theological Faculty of San Miguel, and has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, reportedly overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.

Francis was elected to the papacy after two days of conclave meetings, with a total of five ballots cast. Although the 115 elected cardinals were sworn to secrecy, at least 77 votes were cast for Francis, which is the minimum two-thirds required to become pope.

The papacy is effective immediately, yet the date is still unclear on when the installation Mass will happen. Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombardi said earlier on Wednesday that Tuesday, March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph, could be the possible date. He commented before the white smoke signaled the news, however, so it’s doubtful of whether he knew Francis would be named the Benedict’s successor today. Lombardi later said the new pope would likely celebrate Mass with the cardinals the morning following his election, though.

At the installation Mass, Francis will be gifted the Fisherman’s Ring, which stands as a reminder of his duty to be “a fisher of men.” He will also receive a pallium — the woolen stole that symbolizes his new role and is designed to invoke a shepherd carrying a sheep on his shoulders.

Francis will later be driven around St. Peter’s Square after the Mass, so he can greet those who traveled to Vatican City to see him, and soon be taken to a temporary apartment, where he will live for the first few weeks as pope away from the official papal residence.

Besides his native Spanish, Francis also speaks Italian and German.


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