March 13, 2015 6:00 AM EDT It was exactly two years ago that the Vatican announced that a new Pope had been chosen. The tweet, Habemus Papam Franciscum, has since been deleted — the Vatican wiped previous tweets when Pope Francis’ team began using it — but it wasn’t the only sign that, since day one, this Pope was different.
The man who has spent the last two years
breaking down some stereotypes about his office was already doing so just by being a contender. His Latin American and Jesuit background, his age and his alignment with some of the Church’s more moderate leadership all made him, in some ways, a long-shot for the job. He wasn’t about to uproot Church doctrine, but it was immediately clear that he would follow that doctrine in a new way. As TIME’s Howard Chua-Eoan explained in the magazine’s cover story about the Cardinals’ selection:
Bergoglio will not stray from the conservative doctrines of the rest of the Vatican. But unlike some of the other often opaquely eloquent Cardinals, he brings a prosaic and experiential perspective to administering the church. “We have to avoid the spiritual sickness of a self-referential church,” Bergoglio told
La Stampa, talking about evangelism. “It’s true that when you get out into the street, as happens to every man and woman, there can be accidents. However, if the church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old … I have no doubts about preferring the former.” His lifestyle is spartan compared with that of other princes of the church. He does not live in a Cardinal’s palace, and in Buenos Aires, he takes the bus to work. On March 13, as crowds gathered in the Argentine capital to celebrate, one young priest in the crowd said, “He’s the Vicar of Christ, but I used to see him riding with us on the subway.”
He will deliver much-needed oxygen to parts of the Catholic empire. Just before the conclave convened, he celebrated his 55th year as a member of the Society of Jesus—popularly called the Jesuits. That itself is a matter of rejoicing for the order—even though Bergoglio is on the conservative end of the often liberal Jesuit scale. The order has seen its once formidable influence wane as the star of Opus Dei rose during the reign of John Paul II. Bergoglio’s choice of name is also telling. Many people immediately saw the reference to the great saint of the church, Francis of Assisi. But anyone raised by the Jesuits would have heard the resonance of another great saint and member of the Society of Jesus: the evangelist to Asia, Francis Xavier. In Mexico City, stunned Jesuits simply murmured “the Argentine” at the news, with one older priest saying, “Our first Pope—let us pray for him and for our church.”
Read the full cover story, here in the TIME archives: New World Pope The Most Surprising Photos of Pope Francis The wind lifts Pope Francis' mantle as he delivers his speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, on Sept. 26, 2015. Tony Gentile—AP Pope Francis looks at the Statue of Liberty from the window of a helicopter on his way to the John F. Kennedy International Airport, in New York City, on Sept. 26, 2015. L'Osservatore Romano/AP A Pope Francis mannequin rides around in a car in Times Square as New York City waits for the arrival of the Pope to the city, on Sept. 24, 2015. Timothy A. Clary—AFP/Getty Images Kaydn Dorsey, 4, and Lionel Perkins, 4, draw on a coloring sheet bearing the image of Pope Francis as they wait for him to arrive on a visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington in Washington, on Sept. 24, 2015. David Goldman—Reuters Nuns with the Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy in Pleasantville, N.J., pose for a selfie with a cutout of Pope Francis, at the World Meeting of Families conference, in Philadelphia, on Sept. 22, 2015. Matt Rourke—AP Pope Francis blows out the candles of a birthday cake to celebrate his 78th birthday during a general audience at the Vatican on Dec. 17, 2014. Osservatore Romano/AFP/Getty Images Paying the bill at Rome's Domus Internationalis Paulus VI hotel, where Pope Francis stayed as a cardinal before entering the conclave and being elected pope. Osservatore Romano/AP Welcoming Pope emeritus Benedict XVI as he returns to the Vatican from the pontifical summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. Osservatore Romano/AP Holding a disabled child after celebrating Easter Mass. Alessandro di Meo—ANSA/Zuma Press Pope Francis masks in a factory in Brazil, where the Pontiff took his first overseas trip. Christophe Simon—AFP/Getty Images Leading the Worldwide Eucharistic adoration at the Vatican. Alessandra Benedetti—Corbis A gust of wind blows the pope's mantle. Alessandra Tarantino—AP Attending the opening of the Pastoral Convention of the Diocese of Rome. Stefano Rellandini—Reuters Leaving a welcoming ceremony at Guanabara Palace in Rio de Janeiro. Ricardo Moraes—Reuters Greeting the weekly General Audience. Stefano Rellandini—Reuters Pointing to the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida from the balcony of the Aparecida basilica in Brazil. Domenico Stinellis—AP A Catholic faithful in Brazil bears a sticker of Pope Francis on his forehead. Ueslei Marcelino—Reuters Images of Pope Francis projected onto screens at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. Paulo Whitaker— Reuters Departing Rio de Janeiro. Ricardo Moraes—Reuters A stray dog walks across the stage near the altar where Pope Francis celebrates the World Youth Day's closing Mass on the Copacabana beachfront. Victor R. Caivano—AP Listening to confessions of young people in a park in Rio de Janeiro. L'Osservatore Romano—EPA Posing with youths in Saint Peter's Basilica. L'Osservatore Romano—EPA Greeting the faithful on a rainy day during the General Audience. Fabio Frustaci—Eidon Press/Zuma Press Arriving to lead his General Audience in a firefighter's helmet. Stefano Rellandini—Reuters A quiet moment after meeting with Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at the Vatican. Max Rossi—Reuters Marking the 110th anniversary UNITALSI, a Catholic organization dedicated to helping the sick. Francesco Zizola—NOOR for TIME A private Audience with Russian President Vladimir Putin. L'Osservatore Romano/AP Keeping warm during a General Audience. Alessandra Tarantino—AP Comforting a disfigured man at the end of his General Audience. Claudio Peri—EPA Blessing a sick man with deformed facial features. Evandro Inetti—Zuma Press Visiting the parish of the Sant'Alfonso Maria de Liguori during the Epiphany day. L'Osservatore Romano—AFP/Getty Images Reacting to devotees at a weekly General Audience. Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters A seagull attacks a dove released during a prayer conducted by Pope Francis.
Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters A scarf is tossed at Pope Francis by a faithful. Tony Gentile—Reuters Italian artist Mauro Pallotta's superhero rendering of Pope Francis in a street near St. Peter's Basilica. Alessandra Benedetti—Corbis Blowing a kiss to pilgrims gathered at Saint Peter's Square. Vincenzo Pinto—AFP/Getty Images Meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the private library of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. Vatican Pool/Contrasto/Redux With Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the Vatican. Alessandra Benedetti—Vatican Pool/Corbis A wind gust lifts Pope Francis's mantle as he arrives at the traditional Washing of the Feet during Holy Thursday. Alberto Pizzoli—AFP/Getty Images Kissing a man's at the traditional Washing of the Feet. Alberto Pizzoli—AFP/Getty Images Visitors take photos of Pope Francis as he speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Michael Sohn—AP More Must-Reads From TIME Meet the 2024 Women of the Year Greta Gerwig's Next Big Swing East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment In the Belly of MrBeast The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap How Long Should You Isolate With COVID-19? The Best Romantic Comedies to Watch on Netflix Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time