It’s Pope Francis, not Francis I

Agence France-Presse
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio chose to be called Franciscum, not Franciscum Primum

POPE FRANCIS. Photo from Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's fan site on Facebook

VATICAN CITY – Latin America’s first pope – Jorge Mario Bergoglio – will be known as Francis, rather than Francis I, until such time as a future pope chooses the same name.

“Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum,” the Vatican’s proto-deacon said as he presented the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to the world on Wednesday, March 13 – crucially without adding the world “Primum” (the first).

He will remain a plain Francis until a successor calls himself Francis II – if any should choose to do so – at which point he will go down in history as Francis I.

The first pope to add “the first” to his name was Cardinal Albino Luciani, who took the name John Paul I in 1978.

Papal names down the centuries are inextricably linked to the legacies of the men who have ruled the Church. (Read: Papal names: A symbolic choice for new pope.) 

Bergoglio’s decision to become the first pope ever to go by the name Francis is seen as highly significant.

The moniker draws on the legacy of St Francis of Assisi, the 13th-century founder of the Franciscan Order and a symbol of asceticism. (Read: Pope Francis known as champion of poor.)

Some of the quirkier papal names from history have proved unpopular.

Among those that have never been used more than once are Simplicius and Hilarius. –

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