Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

White smoke billowed high above the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, the unassailable signal that Roman Catholics the world over had been eagerly awaiting indicating new leadership in the faith.

On Wednesday evening, Roman Catholic cardinals named Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina as the new pope, bringing to a conclusion an unprecedented journey that began with Pope Benedict XVI's shocking resignation last month and ended with two days of intense deliberation as 115 cardinals met behind closed doors during a secret election to determine the next pontiff.

The 76-year-old made history as the first pope from Latin America.

White Smoke, Vatican, New Pope

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Thousands of devotees gathered at St. Peter's Square as excitement swelled over news of the new pontiff's imminent announcement.

On Feb. 11, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the global faith community after he announced that he would be resigning as pontiff over concerns that his deteriorating health would leave him unable to fulfill his leadership obligations.

He officially stepped down on Feb. 28, the first pope to abdicate his post since 1415.

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