Pope Francis appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 13. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (March 13, 2013)


Pope Francis


Shortly after 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, white smoke fumed out of the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, indicating to the world that the College of Cardinals were in agreement and elected a new Pontiff.  As crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and thousands watched on television, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran stepped onto the balcony to declare Habemus Papam! (We have a Pope)! and announced that Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires is the new Pope of the Catholic Church and chose to take the name of Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi. He is the 266th Catholic Pope.


Upon the announcement of Pope Francis, Bishop Barbarito issued the following statement:


   “We rejoice with the entire Church on the election of Pope Francis as the Shepherd of the Universal Church. The fact that the Cardinals chose him so quickly, especially in view of the requirement of 2/3 vote, is a sign of their unified consensus that he is the most appropriate choice for this ministry of service. We have a series of firsts - among them a new name for a Pope as well as the first Pope from the Americas. He is a very loving, humble, spiritual and capable man with a special love for the poor and marginalized in keeping with the name of his patron, Saint Francis of Assisi. Before giving his blessing to the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, he bowed his head before them to ask for their prayers. We all also join in prayer for our new Holy Father as he begins his significant ministry of service to all men and women.


Viva il Papa!”


Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito

March 13, 2013



In addition, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement, congratulating the newly elected pope and calling Pope Francis the “figure of unity for all Catholics wherever they reside. “ To read his full statement, please click here.




The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has released a prayer for our new Pontiff. Catholic dioceses, parishes and schools have permission to download and reproduce these materials for free distribution. Printed copies of all of these resources may also be purchased from USCCB. For more information, click here to visit the USCCB’s Leadership & Holy See web page.



Prayer for Pope Francis

O God, shepherd and ruler of all the faithful,
look favorably on your servant Francis,
whom you have set at the head of your Church as her shepherd;


Grant, we pray, that by word and example
he may be of service to those over whom he presides
so that, together with the flock entrusted to his care,
he may come to everlasting life.


Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the
unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.



Copyright © 2013, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC.


The coat of arms of Pope Francis borrows much from his former episcopal emblem. (CNS)


Coat of Arms

Pope Francis' papal coat of arms are the same that he used as bishop. The shield has a bright blue background, at the center top of which is a yellow radiant sun with the IHS christogram representing Jesus (it is also the Jesuit logo). The IHS monogram, as well as a cross that pierces the H, are in red with three black nails directly under them. Under that, to the left, is a star representing Mary, Mother of Christ and the Church. To the right of the star is a spikenard flower representing Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. With these symbols the Pope demonstrates his love for the Holy Family.


What distinguishes his coat of arms as pontiff is that, instead of the wide-brimmed, red cardinal's hat atop the shield, it is now crowned by the papal tiara and crossed keys.

His motto—“miserando atque eligendo” (because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him)—is taken from the Venerable Bede's homily on the Gospel account of the call of Matthew. It holds special meaning for the Pope because—when he was only 17-years-old, after going to confession on the Feast of St. Matthew in 1953—he perceived God's mercy in his life and felt the call to the priesthood, following the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola.



Biography of Pope Francis

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He is a Jesuit and is 76. He is the first Latin American Pope and the first Jesuit Pope.


He entered the Society of Jesus in 1958, and obtained a licentiate in philosophy. He was ordained a priest in 1969, and was a theology professor. He was a provincial leader for the Society and a seminary rector. Cardinal Bergoglio was elevated to the College of Cardinals on February 21, 2001, in Rome. He was ordained a bishop in 1992. He was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1997, succeeding Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on February 28, 1998.


He is known to:

  • Take the bus and subway in his home country
  • Cook his own meals
  • Have a strong devotion to Mary
  • Visit the poor
  • Be very spiritual
  • Have low-key style
  • Love soccer and tangos
  • Speak Spanish, Italian, English, French and German


For further biography of Pope Francis, please click here.

The Vatican website also has a biography. Please click here to view it.


Other Related News Items and Links:

For the story of St. Francis, please click here.

To view our detailed Sede Vacante and Papal Transition web page, please click here.

To read the Diocese of Palm Beach’s Pope Benedict XVI & Papal Transition informational webpage, please click here.


Keep Informed

With the launch of its newly designed website late last year, the diocese provides live news feeds from Catholic News Service and Vatican News. You can find the latest news on the Pope and the Vatican by following  Catholic News Service, Vatican News , Vatican Today and the USCCB.