Crowds in tens of thousands had poured into St. Peter’s Square today, first in anticipation of word of a new pope and then once the election was complete, to welcome to new Holy Father of the Roman Catholic Church.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics in the fifth round of ballots of the papal conclave, one of the fastest in years.
Archbishop Bergoglio will take the name Pope Francis I.
White smoke emerged from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel just after 7 p.m. Rome time, 1 p.m. Central Time.
The winner must receive two-thirds of the 115 cardinal electors, or 77 votes, to be named pope.
Pope Francis I’s identity and name were announced in Latin, the universal language of the Catholic Church.
He is 76 years old, a Jesuit, reportedly the runner up in the last papal conclave, and the first pontiff from the Americas.
The pope thanked the crowd for its welcome of him.
“The community of Rome has a new bishop,” he said.
“First of all, I would like to say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI,” said the new Holy Father. “Let’s pray all together for him so that the Lord will bless him.”
The Holy Father then led the crowd in the Our Father and the Hail Mary.
“Let’s begin this task together,” Pope Francis said of beginning his pontificate.
Pope Francis I spoke of “brotherhood love and trust between us,” referencing unity among faith traditions.
“Pray for all of us, let’s pray for the world,” he said.
Before blessing the crowd, he asked a favor, that those present would ask the Lord to “bless the Bishop” (of Rome, the Holy Father).
“Let’s pray in silence for me,” the Holy Father said and bowed.
As the blessings concluded, Pope Francis I thanked the crowd another time, and then once again asked, “Pray for me.”