The Vatican clarified Wednesday that the new pope -- the first to take the name Francis -- will be known as Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I.
The Wednesday bulletin issued by the Vatican announcing his selection as pope called him simply Francis, as did the cardinal who announced his name from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“It will become Francis I after we have a Francis II,” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi quipped to the Associated Press.
The new name, taken by Argentine Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio, marks the first time that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church has chosen to be known as Francis. Analysts say the name evokes the beloved St. Francis of Assisi; it may also recall the Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier.
The last pontiff to choose a previously unused name was John Paul I (1978), though his name combined two familiar names for popes.