He has chosen the name Pope Francis. According to American Cardinal Timothy Dolan, he chose the name after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of the poor and the founder of the Franciscan friars.
The new pope was announced by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran about an hour after the white smoke emerged and the bells rang. After the announcement, Bergoglio appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to the throngs of the cheering faithful. In his first words on the balcony of St Peter's, he said the cardinals who elected him had chosen someone "from the end of the Earth."
"Now, we take up this journey: Bishop and People. This journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us," he said. "Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity."
After his speech, Bergoglio slipped and said "Buenas tardes," which means good afternoon in Spanish, and then corrected himself and said "Buona notte," good night in Italian.
The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests. Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 papal conclave that produced Benedict XVI.
He is known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America. He has never lived in the ornate church mansion in Buenos Aires, instead preferring a simple bed in a downtown room heated by a small stove on frigid weekends. For years, he took public transportation around the city and cooked his own meals.
"That's what the name Francis means, Francis was the Poverello, the little poor man who identified with the poor and whose spirituality was really founded on identifying with the poor and simple and humble Jesus," said Father Thomas Rausch, a professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University.
According to a book called "The Jesuit," as a young man, Bergoglio loved dancing the Tango with his girlfriend. The biography says they would often go dancing with a group of friends, but then Bergoglio discovered his religious vocation.
The conclave began Tuesday after Pope Benedict XVI resigned last month. Elected on the fifth ballot, Francis was chosen relatively quickly.
Tens of thousands of people packed St. Peter's Square in the rain and cold to witness history.
"The fact that he asked the people to bless him before he blessed the crowd, to me is very, very significant," Rausch said. "This is a man who has a kind of sense of his origins from among the people and he realizes he needs to be the pope of all the people."
On average, it has taken about three days to choose a pope, but with no clear frontrunner going into the conclave and amid deep divisions within the church about what kind of leader should be picked, it was expected to take longer.
The longest conclave held since the turn of the 20th century lasted five days. If a pope is not elected in the first four days of voting, the cardinals will pause on the fifth day to pray, talk and listen to a brief speech given by the senior cardinal in the order of deacons.
Benedict was the oldest pope to be elected in centuries. The fact that his surprise resignation was blamed on his age and ailing health was expected to influence the selection of the next pope. The youngest pope to lead the church was 18 years old. That was in the 10th century.
On Thursday, Pope Francis is expected to meet with Pope Benedict and go to mass with the cardinals who elected him.