Pope Francis -- the first Jesuit pope -- has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina.
The former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger, the last pope, in the 2005 papal election. He has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work -- overseeing churches and priests -- that some say is an essential skill for a pope.
In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world's Catholics, the former Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility as well as a self-effacing humility, according to his official biographer, Sergio Rubin. His personal style is the antithesis of Vatican splendor.
Bergoglio is also known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America.
The new Argentinian pope shyly waved to the crowd in St. Peter's Square and marveled that the cardinals had had to look to "the end of the earth" to find a new pontiff.
Jorge Bergoglio asked for prayers for himself, and for retired Pope Benedict XVI, whose resignation paved the way for his election.
Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict -- who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.