The first non-European pope in more than a millenium was elected Wednesday in Rome, according to the Associated Press.
Argentine Jorge Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis, gave his first address from his balcony to a crowd of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.
The new pope asked for prayers, both for himself and the now-retired Pope Benedict XVI.
Bergoglio was chosen in a remarkably fast conclave. Cardinals announced their selection less than 24 hours after they signalled the start to their decision-making.
The 76-year-old leaves his post as archbishop of Buenos Aires to assume the royal seat in Rome.
Thousands of people who were posted outside the Sistine Chapel jumped for joy when white smoke billowed from the smokestack just past 7 p.m.
Bergoglio was chosen on the fifth ballot cast, one of the fastest decisions in years.
Italian and Vatican military bands played anthems to the crowd of at least 50,000.
Pope Benedict XVI was the first pope to resign in 600 years, and since his resignation came so unexpectedly, there was no clear frontrunner for pontiff.
Experts had been predicting the papal conclave to last as long as four days.
The church was thrown into upheaval and turmoil by Benedict’s abrupt resignation, another factor which made the quick decision surprising.
In comparison, Benedict was clearly the front-running going into the 2005 election, which took just four ballots. It took two days to elect Pope