A new Pope has been elected. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has chosen the name Francis I, will be the 266th pope in the history of the Church.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, is the first Latin American Pope and the first Jesuit to reach the pontiff.
The traditional announcement was made from the balcony by the French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran: "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum... habemus papam!" - "I announce to you a great joy... we have a Pope!"
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The new Pope emerged onto the balcony of St Peter's Basilica just after 7pm to address the thousands gathered in the square. His first words to the crowds 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.
Just before leaving the balcony, he addressed the Catholic faithful one last time. "Good night and I wish you a peaceful rest," he said.
Shortly after, @pontifex, the Pope's twitter account, sent its first tweet of the new papacy, the message read: "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM".
Prime Minister David Cameron was one of the first to tweet about the memorable event, saying: "A momentous day for the 1.2bn Catholics around the world as His Holiness Pope Francis I is appointed the 266th Bishop of Rome."
US President Barack Obama soon followed suit, sending "warm wishes" on behalf of the American people to the newly elected pontiff, hailing the Argentine as "the first pope from the Americas."
The white smoke, announcing that a Pope had been chosen, was finally issued from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday afternoon shortly after 6pm.
The announcement came sooner than some expected after just two days of deliberations in Rome. Cardinal Bergoglio was a surprise to many. The three mostly hotly tipped successors were Angelo Scola of Italy, Brazilian Odilo Scherer and Marc Ouellet of Canada.
The papal conclave began on Tuesday when 115 cardinals from 50 countries began casting their votes. They stayed in a special conclave hotel and had little access to the outside world.
The cardinals had to vote four times daily until one candidate had a two-thirds majority. Usually, if a decision is not made after three days, the cardinals may pause for prayer and informal discussion for a maximum of one day.
Pope Benedict XVI chose to step down as he felt he was no longer physically strong enough to lead the Church. He was the first Pope in six centuries to have abdicated.
Pope Francis's first speech as Pontiff
Brothers and sisters, good evening.
You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the end of the Earth to get him ... but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.
First of all, I would say a prayer: Pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI ... Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him.
Our Father ...
Hail Mary ...
Glory to the Father ...
And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust.
Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar, be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.
And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I want to ask you a favour. Before the bishop blesses the people, I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me — the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer — your prayer for me — in silence.
I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.
Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon.
We will see one another soon.
Tomorrow I want to go to pray the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.
Good night and sleep well!