Pope Francis I, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on 17 December 1936, is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, elected on 13 March 2013.
He is the first Pope born in the Americas, and the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires has been mooted as a possible successor ever since John Paul II died.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, a trained chemist and son of a railway worker, has been a cardinal since 2001 and is widely seen as being open and compassionate.
He stands out for his humility, living in a modest apartment, rather than his luxury official residence.
“In favor of Bergoglio is his pastoral attitude, as they say in the Church – his relationship with the people,” said in 2005 Leandro Pastor, a philosophy professor at the University of Buenos Aires, who has known Cardinal Bergoglio for more than 30 years.
“He’s a very simple man. He’s very austere. And also, I think he’s an intelligent man and someone who is very good at communicating.”
Jorge Mario Bergoglio impressed fellow prelates in 2001 when he skilfully helped to manage a synod of bishops in Rome.
Buenos Aires’ cardinal is also a strong advocate for the poor. And, as a Latin American, he comes from a region which is home to around half the world’s billion or so Catholics.
He speaks Italian – the official language of the Church – and that he traces his ancestry back to Italy.
In the event that cardinals struggle to decide whether to maintain a non-Italian papacy or to return to its traditional roots, Jorge Mario Bergoglio could emerge as a choice of compromise.
For the past 28 years, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has lived with only one functioning lung, although he is said to be in good shape.
And then there is the fact that he is a Jesuit.
This order of the Church has never produced a Pope before.