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Why the new pope chose Francis as his name

Cardinal Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires – and the new Pope Francis

Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail

Who was Francis?

The Vatican says the new pontiff's official name is Pope Francis, without a Roman numeral.

Spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi sought to clear up any possible confusion, noting that Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who announced the name to the world, said simply Francis. It is listed that way in the first Vatican bulletin on the new Pope.

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"It will become Francis I after we have a Francis II," he said.

Francis was a much-beloved Italian saint who is identified with peace, poverty and a simple lifestyle.

Jorge Bergoglio is the first pontiff from Latin America and the first pontiff to adopt the name of Francis, the rich, young man from Assisi who renounced wealth and founded the Franciscan order of friars in 1290. "Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words," he told followers.

The choice could foretell the Pope's priorities in striving to bring a sense of serenity to the troubled church. St. Francis is said to have been called by God to repair a church in ruins.

Choosing the name of one of Italy's patron saints also ties the new Pope to Italy, the homeland of all popes of the past few centuries until 1978.

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