The world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics have a new spiritual leader. Pope Francis I, formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of Argentina was elected Wednesday. Here is a list of 12 facts about Pope Francis, the 266th pontiff in the Roman Catholic Church’s 2000-year history.


He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Dec. 17, 1936, to an Italian immigrant father, who worked for the railway, and a mother who was a homemaker. He has four brothers and one sister.

Soccer fan

Like most Argentines, he is a soccer fan. Francis is a card-carrying member of Buenos Aires’ San Lorenzo club. The team was named for a priest who let children play in his church’s courtyard, according to Russell Goldman, ABC News.


He has lived for more than 50 years with one functioning lung. He had the other removed as a teenager after an infection. “He’s a little bit slowed by it,” according to his biographer Sergio Rubin, but it hasn't affected his ability to perform his duties much.

First Jesuit pope

He is the first Jesuit pope in Roman Catholic history. He entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained on Dec. 13, 1969, on the brink of his 33rd birthday, during his theological studies at the Theological Faculty of San Miguel.

Focus on the poor

He told Argentines not to spend money traveling to Rome to celebrate his appointment as pope, if he was elected. Rather he asked them to give their money to the poor.


He speaks fluent Italian, although he is the third successive pope to come from outside Italy after centuries of Italian domination of the papacy.

He also speaks Spanish, Latin, German, French and English.

Serves those in need

He showed compassion for the victims of HIV-AIDS in 2001 by visiting a hospice to kiss and wash the feet of 12 AIDS patients.

In 2008 he washed the feet of 12 recovering drug addicts at a rehabilitation center in Buenos Aires, according to CBS News.

Previous leadership

Before he became pope, he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1997 to 1998 and then became a cardinal in 2001.

Humble lifestyle

Until now he has been living in a small apartment, giving up the ornate church mansion and driver he could have had as cardinal in Buenos Aires.

He uses public transportation and cooks his own meals.

According to Reuters, "The morning after his election, Francis asked a driver to take him to the clerics' hotel, the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI, where he had stayed during the run-up to this week's secret electoral conclave.

"'He wanted to get his luggage and the bags. He had left everything there,' a Vatican spokesman told a news briefing.

"'He then stopped in the office, greeted everyone and decided to pay the bill for the room ... because he was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do.'"

First pope from the Americas

He is the first pope from outside Europe in more than 1,000 years, since Gregory III, whose papacy ended in 741 A.D. He is also the first pope from the Americas.

It's all in a name

Pope Francis selected a name that reflects his own ministry. He chose the name of St. Francis of Assisi, who renounced family wealth to live with and serve the poor.

The new pope is known as a humble man who doesn't partake in luxuries.

This is the first time in papal history that the name "Francis" has been used.

A sense of humor

There are rumors that the pope has never smiled. But at a dinner with the cardinal electors Wednesday night, he showed a glimpse of his sense of humor, stating, "May God forgive you for what you have done."