Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the first South American and Jesuit pope of the Roman Catholic Church after 115 cardinals selected him as the 266th pontiff earlier today.

Bergoglio, 76 years old, was introduced as Pope Francis I by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran soon after white smoke began billowing from the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

In his address from St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis thanked the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square as well as the cardinals, saying that they “have chosen one from far away, but here I am.”

Electing the Argentinian Jesuit on the fifth ballot, the conclave — which began on Tuesday — was  the fastest in years and contradicted the lack of clear front-runner going into the vote and the unpredictability of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the first in 600 years.

While Benedict was elected on the fourth ballot in 2005, he was the cardinals’ top pick even before the vote.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis was well known for his modesty, simplicity and poverty as he traveled on buses through his country and took trips of compassion to visit HIV and AIDS patients in 2001, where he kissed and washed the feet of those affected by the disease.

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