Mar 13, 2013

By Michael Kramer

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The  266th pope is the first ever from the Americas and the first to take the name of Francis.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is the first pope from outside Europe in more than a thousand years.

He reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced former pope Benedict the 6th.

When he came out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s to bless the faithful, he thanked the cheering pilgrims for their warm acceptance.

The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and simple priests and has been known simply as Father Jorge.

Francis, the name the new pope has chosen, is a much-beloved Italian saint who is identified with peace, poverty and a simple lifestyle.

Francis was the rich young man from Assisi who renounced wealth and founded the Franciscan order of friars in 1290. The choice could foretell the pope’s priorities in striving to bring a sense of serenity to the troubled church. St. Francis is said to have been called by God to repair a church in ruins.

Choosing the name of one of Italy’s patron saints also ties the new pope to Italy, the homeland of all popes of the last few centuries until 1978.

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