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New Pope Francis I: What is in a Name?

By Phoebe Ryles
Epoch Times Staff
Created: March 14, 2013 Last Updated: March 14, 2013
Related articles: World » Europe
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Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose the papal name Francis.  There are two historic men he may have wanted to honor with the choice.

A seller holds a newspaper with a picture of new pope Francis March 14. Pope Francis, or Papa Francesco as he is known in Italy, is the first pope to chose the papal name Francis. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

A seller holds a newspaper with a picture of new pope Francis March 14. Pope Francis, or Papa Francesco as he is known in Italy, is the first pope to chose the papal name Francis. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Upon his election to the papal office March 13, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, chose the name Francis. He is the first pope ever to chose the name Francis. Many see the name the new pope has chosen as a window into his history, values and goals. There are two notable Saint Francis in whose honor Pope Francis I may have chosen his name.

Saint Francis Xavier—Jesuit Missionary

Pope Francis is the first cardinal from the Jesuit order of priests to become Pope.  The Jesuit order is a body of priests who take a vow of poverty and chastity and dedicate their lives to apostolic work. People recognize them for their schools and commitment to formal education.

St. Francis Xavier was one of the first member of the Society of Jesus, now commonly know as the Jesuit order. The term Jesuit literally means “one who uses the name of Jesus frequently”, according to the New Advent Catholic dictionary.

Saint Francis Xavier was born in 1504 in the Navarre region, which is now part of Spain.  He worked as a missionary and traveled all over the world to spread the teachings of the church.

The Jesuits remain an order strongly committed to evangelical work.  ”Every guy that takes vows as a Jesuit commits himself really to that understanding of being a missionary, whether he’s teaching in a high school or whether he’s serving in the foreign missions,”   Father Charles Federico, Vocation Director at the Society of Jesus said in an interview with NBC.

In this same spirit, Pope Francis I said in his welcome address he hoped the journey of the church “will be fruitful for the evangelization of this so beautiful city.”

Saint Francis of Assisi—Monk and Hermit

Saint Francis of Assisi is one of the most famous Catholic saints, one of the two patron saints of Italy.   He was born in 1181 or 1182 (the exact year is not known) in the Umbria region of Italy, according to New Advent.

Saint Francis of Assisi renounced a life of luxury and privilege after he had a vision that his life was going down the wrong path.  He took a vow of poverty, living in a hut and wearing simple cloths.

Pope Francis I has “a special place in his heart and his ministry for the poor, for the disenfranchised, for those living on the fringes and facing injustice,” Vatican deputy spokesman Thomas Rosica told CNN.  

Francis I received a lot of praise for his humble lifestyle. As a Cardinal he lived in a modest apartment in Caracas and took the bus to work.  

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