Argentinean Cardinal Priest Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. [dob: December 17, 1936], Archbishop of Buenos Aires (and the Bishop of the Faithful of the Oriental Rites in Argentina) was elected pope in the early evening hours of Wednesday, March 13, 2013. He was chosen by 115 cardinal electors on the second day of the conclave on the fifth round of balloting. The white sfumata indicating his election was seen at 7:06 p.m. (Rome time). The Habemus Papam announcement of his appointment was made from the external Loggia of the Hall of Blessings of St. Peter’s Basilica at 8:12 p.m. by French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the protodeacon. [The then sixty-nine year old Cardinal Tauran suffers from Parkinson’s disease which made it difficult for him to enunciate the name of the electee and the regnal name by which he wished to be known. This left many around the world confused for a few minutes until clarification was provided by the Vatican to the TV crews and social media as to who was the new pope].
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Jesuit to be elected pope, chose to be Francis (#267) so as to pay homage to St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of Franciscans. The name was also meant to convey the new pope’s special concern for the well-being of the poor, with St. Francis having been noted for his devotion towards those suffering from poverty (Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, O.F.M., during the conclave, having whispered in the papabili’s ear ‘don’t forget the poor’ when it was becoming clear that he would receive the necessary majority to become pope).
Cardinal Bergoglio, at 76 years, 2 months, 3 weeks and 3 days [27,845 days], was the ninth oldest pope to be elected since 1400. Both Benedict XVI (#266) at 78 years of age, and John XXIII (#262), at 76 years and 11 months, had been older when elected.
Francis was the 54th non-Italian to be elected pope, and the third non-Italian in a row – something that had not happened since the Avignon papacies in the 14th century, over 600 years and sixty-five popes previously. He, however, is from Italian descent. He was the first pope from the Americas.
He was the 31st pope from a religious order to become pope; the first since Gregory XVI (#255), who reigned from February 1831 to June 1846. [Gregory XVI was the last non-bishop to be elected pope.]
Pope Francis made his inaugural appearance on the St. Peter’s Basilica balcony at 8:24 p.m. [twelve minutes after Cardinal Tauran], wearing just a white cassock sans the red ermine-trimmed mozzetta. He also wore the same plain iron pectoral cross that he had worn as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, eschewing one made of gold as had been the preference of his predecessors.