Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic church succeeding Pope Benedict, who resigned last month.
-Full name: Jorge Mario Bergoglio
-Born December 17, 1936 (age 76) in Buenos Aires, Argentina
-Made cardinal by Pope John Paul II in February 2001
-First pope from Latin America
-First Jesuit pope
The 115 voting members of the College of Cardinals elected the 76-year-old pope Wednesday afternoon on the second day of their secret conclave in the Vatican.
The new pope has chosen the name Francis.
The candidate had to receive two-thirds of the vote, or 77 ballots, to be chosen to lead the Church.
Thousands gathered in the Vatcan's Saint Peter's Square to witness the historical announcement.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who became the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff Wednesday, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1936.
He was a son of Italian immigrants and his father was a railroad worker.
The new leader of 1.2 billion Catholics chose to be known as Pope Francis. He is the first Latin American leader of the Church.
Latin America is home to the world's largest concentration of Catholics, with Brazil and Mexico having the largest Catholic populations.
Pope Francis studied liberal arts in Santiago, Chile, and in 1960 earned a degree in philosophy from the Catholic University of Buenos Aires.
He was ordained a priest in 1969, and is part of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. Before becoming a cardinal in 2001, he served as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998.
As a priest and a cardinal he became known for his simple lifestyle, personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice.
White smoke emerged from a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel and bells pealed in Vatican City Wednesday evening, signaling that a new pope had been chosen to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
The cardinals, all of them under the age of 80, took an initial vote Tuesday.
As expected, the first vote did not produce a decision but may have produced a slate of frontrunners.
A vote Wednesday morning also was inconclusive.
The 115 scarlet-robed "princes of the church" swore an oath of secrecy requiring, under pain of excommunication, that they would reveal nothing of their deliberations for the duration of the secret conclave.