On March 13, 2013, the cardinal conclave chose Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, making him the first pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit pope.
Born in Buenos Aires of Italian immigrants, Bergoglio was one of five children. After graduating as a chemical technician, he chose to be a priest and entered the Diocesan Seminary of Villa Devoto, where he soon after chose to become a Jesuit. He then continued his studies in Argentina at the Colegio del Salvatore with a degree in philosophy, and later earned his degree in theology from the Coleio of San Jose.
After being ordained as a priest and joining the Society of Jesus in various positions, he was made Archbishop of Buenos Aires. According to the Vatican, he had four main goals during this time: “open and brotherly communities, an informed laity playing a lead role, evangelization efforts addressed to every inhabitant of the city, and assistance to the poor and the sick.” Bergoglio was then named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001.
Bergoglio took the name Pope Francis I in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology who was also known for his work with the poor. In true accordance to his name, Pope Francis has developed the reputation for simple and modest living, opting to take public transportation and refusing to live in the ornate mansion offered to him in Buenos Aires. He has also been widely acclaimed for his work with the poor, promising during his installation Mass to serve “the poorest, weakest, (and) the least important.”
“I think he is a really beautiful man,” junior Sarah Faust said. “The stories I’ve heard about him- like him washing the feet of AIDS victims and practicing modest living- really display his commitment to his causes and the strength of his character.”
During his installation Mass, Pope Francis called upon all world leaders to support his intentions saying, “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political, and social life, and all men and women of good will; let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, and protectors of one another and of the environment.” With these words, he won over many of the audience members in the Vatican City, and religion teacher Mary Beth Sandmann is just as hopeful.
“The fact that he is a Jesuit tells me that he has a deep concern for the poor, and he makes me very hopeful for the direction of the Church,” Sandmann said. “I believe he will address the humility of the Church, and I like the example he has already begun to set. I think the Church does already place a high concern on those in need, and I think he will continue to uphold that dignity of all human beings.”
For more information on Pope Francis, click here to get full coverage of his first days in the papacy.