BUENOS AIRES - Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio, chosen Wednesday to lead the world's Roman Catholics, is a humble rail worker's son who became a Jesuit priest and who is seen as true to his working-class roots.
At 76, Bergoglio - the first pope from Latin America - still enjoys a reputation as an ascetic despite his archbishop's robes. He rides clattering city buses, makes his own meals and is famously accessible.
He lived in a small apartment rather than the palace that came with his former job and, while he fought to stop his church from siding with the left, his election was hailed by anti-poverty activists.
Bergoglio's choice of the papal name Francis is also a first and was seen as a non-traditional choice as it honors a saint who famously lived a simple life.
"He's very much a pastoral priest, close to the people. He chose the name to refer to Saint Francis of Assisi, who renovated the church and was a man of humility, poverty and dialogue," his former spokesman Gustavo Boquin said.
Pope Francis is seen in Argentina as ideologically mainstream, while the Jesuits - members of the Society of Jesus - are regarded as belonging to one of the most progressive Church institutions, especially in education.
Sergio Rubin, the religion writer for the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarin, said that, like last-pope-but-one Pope John Paul II, Bergoglio is "conservative at the level of doctrine, and progressive on social issues."
For example, the Argentine has hit out sharply at the International Monetary Fund and at modern market capitalism.
Even so, Rubin acknowledged that Bergoglio's rejection of liberation theology remains controversial among left-leaning Argentines.
Those who know him describe the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and primate of Argentina as a shy, softly-spoken man who shuns high society.
He was born December 17, 1936 to a rail worker and a housewife from an Italian immigrant family. He went to a state-run school before studying to become a chemical technician.
"In the confessional of the Church of San Jose de Flores, at age 17, he had a divine revelation and chose to enter the priesthood," Father Gabriel, a friend of the new pope, told AFP.
When he graduated at 22, he joined the Jesuit order and earned a degree in philosophy. He followed this with theological studies and was ordained in 1969. He has also studied in Chile, and years later studied in Germany.
Analysts said being from Latin America, having Italian family roots and studying in Germany may have worked in Bergoglio's favor in the conservative conclave - which many had thought would choose a European.