Pope Francis is now the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. (Peter Macdiarmid/GETTY IMAGES)

The world’s 1.2 billion Catholics have a new leader, and just by his selection he made history.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is the first pope from the Americas.

He will be called Pope Francis and will be the church’s 266th leader. He is the first pope to take the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, who was well known for his love of animals and nature.

The new pope, who is 76 years old, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is one of five children.

Pope Francis succeeds Pope Benedict XVI (the 16th), who stunned much of the world last month when he announced he would retire. He was the first pope to retire in more than 600 years.

The church’s 115 cardinals, or highest-ranking priests, gathered in Italy to vote for a pope. Whoever got two-thirds of the vote would be elected. The cardinals voted once on Tuesday and twice on Wednesday without anyone getting the required 77 votes. Cardinal Bergoglio was elected on the fourth vote.