Pope Francis I doesn't need Facebook or Twitter. He already has more than a billion fans.
The pontiff formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, thrilled the crowd of thousands who gathered in St. Peter's Square Wednesday night. They stayed through the rain and cold to see who would be the next leader of the Catholic Church, according to the New York Times.
And when the white smoke cleared and the new Pope appeared on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica, Francis I immediately won the hearts of the entire world with a humble gesture seldom seen on that balcony -- he bowed to the crowd and asked them to bless him.
After waiting a full 30 seconds as the crowd prayed in silence, the Pope offered his blessings and wished everyone a good night and to sleep well. The crowd immediately fell in love with their new leader. Maria Augusta Barbosa, who traveled all the way from Brazil, told the Times:
“His speech and demeanor, even his tunic, was so humble. My favorite part was when he asked us to bless him, before he blessed us. It was one of the most emotional moments of my entire life.”
As an Archbishop in Buenos Aires, the man now known as Francis lived a very humble life. He chose to live in a modest apartment rather than in the archdiocese, rode the bus, visited the poor, and cooked his own meals, according to a Catholic News Service profile. He often wore a black overcoat rather than show off his robes. People in the community knew him and adored him. It is expected that he will devote a great deal of effort toward helping the poor worldwide.
Pope Francis is the first pontiff from the New World. The time obviously is right for a Pope from Latin America, home to 43 percent of all Catholics.