Pope Francis took his name from St. Francis, a servant to the poor
The Argentinian is not the first pope from outside Europe
He uses public transportation and refused to elevate himself on a platform above cardinals
From the Vatican to Buenos Aires, Catholics worldwide rejoiced when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became the new pope.
He’s the first Jesuit and the first Latin American in modern times to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
But in some ways, he’s just a normal guy.
Here are five things to know about Pope Francis:
1. His name says a lot about him
Unlike other recent pontiffs – John Paul II, Benedict XVI – Pope Francis doesn’t have a numeral after his name. That’s because he’s the first to take the name Francis.
The pope wanted to honor St. Francis of Assisi, an admirer of nature and a servant to the poor and destitute.
St. Francis of Assisi was born the son of a rich cloth merchant. But he lived in rags among beggars at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Those close to Pope Francis see similarities between the two men.
“Francis of Assisi is … someone who turned his back on the wealth of his family and the lifestyle he had, and bonded with lepers and the poor,” said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, the Vatican’s deputy spokesman. “Here’s this pope known for his care for AIDS patients and people who are very sick. Who is known for his concern with single mothers whose babies were refused to be baptized by priests in his diocese.
“He scolded those priests last year and said, ‘How can you turn these people away when they belong to us? ‘”
2. He’s not actually the first pope from outside Europe
Sure, Francis is the first non-European pope in modern times. But back in the 8th century, a Syrian – Pope St. Gregory III – led the church from 731 to 741 A.D.
We’ve also had popes from Bethlehem (St. Evaristus, from 97 to 105 A.D.), Jerusalem (Pope Theodore I, from 642 to 649) and modern-day Libya (Saint Victor I, from 189 to 199). Several other Syrians have also been pontiff in the last few millennia.
Of course, the majority of popes have been Italian. But with Francis’ appointment, the tide could be shifting to outside Europe.
3. He’s a pope of the people
In some ways, Pope Francis is just a normal guy.
“The new pope is a very humble man,” said the Rev. Eduardo Mangiarotti, an Argentine priest. “He takes public transport every day.”
He also chose to live in an apartment instead of the archbishop’s palace, passed on a chauffeured limousine and cooked his own meals, CNN Vatican analyst John Allen wrote in a profile published by National Catholic Reporter.
In his first public act as pontiff, Pope Francis broke with tradition by asking the estimated 150,000 people packed into St. Peter’s Square to pray for him, rather than him blessing the crowd first.
“He is a very simple man,” said Luis R. Zarama, auxiliary bishop of Atlanta. “It’s very clear from the way he approached the people and asked them to bless him and pray for him. It’s a beautiful sign of closeness and humil