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Best pictures of Francis I's first moments as new Pope

White smoke billowed from the roof of the Sistine Chapel and shortly after the world's new Pope, Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was announced on Wednesday evening.

After just two days of deliberations, 115 cardinals voted for the first Latin American Pope and the first Jesuit to reach the pontiff, a much shorter conclave duration than many imagined after the surprise abdication of Benedict XVI.

The new Pope, 76, emerged onto the balcony of St Peter's Basilica just after 7pm to address the world's media, avid tourists and tens of thousands of devout Catholics who were all waiting eagerly to see which of the cardinal-electors finally emerged.

His first words to the crowds, and 1.2 billion faithful followers as leader of the Catholic Church, were: "Brothers and sisters, good evening." Pope Francis I then thanked them for their welcome and led them in a prayer for his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

We look at the best images captured of the momentus day when Francis I became the 266th pope in the history of the Church...

When white smoke flowed from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican shortly after 6pm on Wednesday, the world, and eager crowds waiting in St Peter's Square, knew that a new Pope had been elected after just two days 

Tens of thousands of tourists, Catholics and media jostle for space in St Peter's Square as they wait for the white smoke to appear, signifying a new pope 

At about 7pm, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis I, appeared to greet the public 

Pope Francis is dressed in white robes for the first time and prepares to address 1.2 billion Catholics as spiritual leader of the Catholic church 

 

The French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced the new Pope to the watching world: "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum... habemus papam!" - "I announce to you a great joy... we have a Pope!" 

Pope Francis is the first pope from Latin America in the history of the Catholic Church. Proud Argentinians waved their country flags in St Peter's Square. The new pope, previously the archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the Argentine-born son of Italian parents 

Cardinals gather on one of the balconies of St Peter's basilica after two days of being sequestered for the papel conclave 

The smoke that flowed from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel was greeted with a wave of cheers, cries of delight and applause from the crowds in St Peter's Square 

Crowds brave the cold weather and delightedly take photos of the new pope with cameras, mobiles and iPads 

As is customary, the identity of the new pope was not immediately made known and the crowd in St Peter's Square waited expectantly for him to appear on the huge balcony that runs across the front of St Peter's basilica 

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