Pope Franchis prays at Rome basilica

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 14, 2013 13:33 hrs

On his first full day as the Pontiff, Pope Francis, who was elected the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday, prayed at Rome's main basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary on Thursday.

He entered the entered the St. Mary Major basilica at around 8 a.m. (0700 GMT). He stayed at the basilica for 30 minutes, reports said.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday and would be known as Pope Francis.

The 76-year-old Pope Francis, who stepped into the shoes of Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned last month, is also the first non-European pontiff in about 1,300 years, who was elected by the cardinals on the second day of the conclave to elect a new pope.

The new Pope Francis, who was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, appeared before the world from the balcony of the Vatican and addressing thousands who had gathered at the St. Peter´s Square said: "As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome, it seems to me that my brother cardinals have chosen one who is from faraway. ... Here I am. I would like to thank you for your embrace."

Pope Francis was born on Dec 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church is thus both the leader of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of the Vatican City State.

From 1998 until his election as pope, he served as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and was elevated to Cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. Pope Francis speaks Spanish, Italian and German fluently.

Last month, stunning his followers across the globe, Pope Benedict XVI had resigned due to ´advanced age´.

Roman Catholic Church, largest of the Christian denominations with about 1.2 billion adherents, is headed by the Pope and headquartered in Vatican.

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