It is March 13, 2013. White smoke is seen coming out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel where the College of Cardinals have gathered to pray and vote on the election of a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. They had been sequestered for two days, and five ballots had been taken. The press was speculating over who would be elected, and even though it was rumored that Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been the runner up or the candidate receiving the second most votes in the consultatory that elected Benedict (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) in 2005, hardly anyone had the Jesuit cardinal on their short list. After all, he was a Jesuit who was already 76 years old and from South America.
Despite the odds, when Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran stepped out onto the balcony at the papal palace and announced to the world Habemus Papam (We have a Pope!), the man who was called to step into the shoes of the fisherman, St. Peter, was none other than Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Jesuit ever chosen for this honor, the first from the Americas, and the first ever from the southern hemisphere. Like the fictional Pope Kiril in the 1963 MGM movie titled The Shoes of the Fisherman, he shunned the red slippers and the ermine lined mozzetta (cape) of his predecessors, and he also continued to wear the simple iron cross that he had worn as Cardinal Bergoglio, not one of the jewel-encrusted ones usually worn by the Bishop of Rome. In another first, it was announced that he would be known as Francis, after the great Saint Francis of Assisi, a friend to the poor, to animals, and a lover of nature.
Pope Francis: The Historic Life of the First Pope from the Americas chronicles the amazing life of the leader of the Catholic Church and how he came to be pope.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors