Of all the contenders to replace Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was little mentioned.
The 76-year-old reportedly received the second most votes after Joseph Ratzinger, the last pope, in the 2005 papal election.
And as a representative of South America's Catholics - who make up an estimated 40% of the 1.2 billion strong church, he was widely supported on a massive scale.
He became Pope Francis after a surprisingly quick conclave winning 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115 cardinals' votes, on the fifth ballot.
His decision to pick the name Francis evokes key Christian tenets such as simplicity and humility.
And they are fitting for a man who, spending nearly his entire career in Argentina, is known for catching the bus and eschewing the luxuries of high office.
His personal style is said to be the antithesis of Vatican splendour.
Pope Francis has been described by commentators as a voice of conscience and a reconciler.
Classed by some as a moderniser of a strict South American church, he is still conservative and an opponent of such ideas as gay marriage.