Argentine Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope on Wednesday and chose the papal name Francis, becoming first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
A stunned-looking Bergoglio shyly waved to the crowd of tens of thousands of people who gathered in St. Peter’s Square, marveling that the cardinals had had to look to “the end of the earth” to find a bishop of Rome.
Cardinal Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.
After announcing “Habemus Papum” “We have a pope!” a cardinal standing on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday revealed the identity of the new pontiff, using his Latin name.
The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.
Tens of thousands of people who braved cold rain to watch the smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel jumped in joy when white smoke poured out a few minutes past 7 p.m., local time (11.30 p.m. IST) many shouting “Habemus Papum!” or “We have a pope!” as the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica and churches across Rome pealed.
Chants of “Long live the pope!” arose from the throngs of faithful, many with tears in their eyes. Crowds went wild as the Vatican and Italian military bands marched through the square and up the steps of the basilica, followed by Swiss Guards in silver helmets and full regalia.
They played the introduction to the Vatican and Italian anthems and the crowd, which numbered at least 50,000, joined in, waving flags from countries around the world.
“I can’t explain how happy I am right down,” said Ben Canete, a 32-year-old Filipino, jumping up and down in excitement.
Elected on the fifth ballot, Francis was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years, remarkable given there was no clear front-runner going into the vote and that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation.
A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope.
For comparison’s sake, Benedict XVI was elected on the fourth ballot in 2005 but he was the clear front-runner going into the vote. Pope John Paul II was elected on the eighth ballot in 1978 to become the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.
Patrizia Rizzo ran down the main boulevard to the piazza with her two children as soon as she heard the news on the car radio. “I parked the car … and dashed to the square, she said. “It’s so exciting, as Romans we had to come.”
Pope Francis’ first speech
The following is the Vatican’s official English translation of Pope Francis’ speech “Urbi et Orbi” delivered in Italian from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica Wednesday night.
Brothers and sisters, good evening!
You know that it was the duty of the Conclave to give Rome a Bishop. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth to get one… but here we are… I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome now has its Bishop. Thank you! And first of all, I would like to offer a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus, Benedict XVI. Let us pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may keep him.
And now, we take up this journey- Bishop and People. This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches. A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity. It is my hope for you that this journey of the Church, which we start today, and in which my Cardinal Vicar, here present, will assist me, will be fruitful for the evangelization of this most beautiful city.
And now I would like to give the blessing, but first first I ask a favor of you- before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me- the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop. Let us make, in silence, this prayer- your prayer over me.
Now I will give the Blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will. (Blessing)
Brothers and sisters, I leave you now. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and until we meet again. We will see each other soon. Tomorrow I wish to go and pray to Our Lady, that she may watch over all of Rome. Good night and sleep well!
Popes of the 20th and 21st centuries
Pope Francis March 13, 2013-
Benedict XVI April 19, 2005-Feb. 28, 2013.
John Paul II Oct. 16, 1978-April 2, 2005.
John Paul I Aug. 26-Sept. 28, 1978.
Paul VI June 21, 1963-Aug. 6, 1978.
John XXIII Oct. 28, 1958-June 3, 1963.
Pius XII March 2, 1939-Oct. 9, 1958.
Pius XI Feb. 6, 1922-Feb. 10, 1939.
Benedict XV Sept. 3, 1914-Jan. 22, 1922.
Pius X Aug. 4, 1903-Aug. 20, 1914.
Leo XIII Feb. 20, 1878-July 20, 1903.