And it was a surprise choice - Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina.
He took the name Francis I and became the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years.
The choice of the 76-year-old from Buenos Aires was announced by cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran with the Latin words "Habemus Papam", "We have a pope."
Pope Francis, who is the first Latin American and first Jesuit pope, was greeted by crowds roaring their approval when he appeared at the balcony overlooking St Peter's Square.
"It seems that my brother cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth [to find a pope]," he said.
"Pray for me," the new pontiff, dressed in the white robes of a pope for the first time, added, endearing himself to the crowd.
115 cardinal electors have chosen him to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
Image: © Getty
Copyright is owned by Africa Outlook and/or Outlook Publishing. All rights reserved.