Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who became the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff Wednesday, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1936.
He was a son of Italian immigrants and his father was a railroad worker.
The new leader of 1.2 billion Catholics chose to be known as Pope Francis. He is the first Latin American leader of the Church.
Latin America is home to the world's largest concentration of Catholics, with Brazil and Mexico having the largest Catholic populations.
Pope Francis studied liberal arts in Santiago, Chile, and in 1960 earned a degree in philosophy from the Catholic University of Buenos Aires.
He was ordained a priest in 1969, and is part of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. Before becoming a cardinal in 2001, he served as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998.
As a priest and a cardinal he became known for his simple lifestyle, personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice.