After just two days of deliberations, 115 cardinals voted for the first Latin American Pope and the first Jesuit to reach the pontiff, a much shorter conclave duration than many imagined after the surprise abdication of Benedict XVI.
The new Pope, 76, emerged onto the balcony of St Peter's Basilica just after 7pm to address the world's media, avid tourists and tens of thousands of devout Catholics who were all waiting eagerly to see which of the cardinal-electors finally emerged.
His first words to the crowds, and 1.2 billion faithful followers as leader of the Catholic Church, were: "Brothers and sisters, good evening." Pope Francis I then thanked them for their welcome and led them in a prayer for his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
We look at the best images captured of the momentus day when Francis I became the 266th pope in the history of the Church...