1. When the newly elected leader, Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, introduced himself to the world and became the first non-European pope in more than 1,000 years.
When he greeted the world on March 13, the new pope also became the first Jesuit pontiff in history.
2. When he became the first pope in history to choose the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi.
In his first address to the media, Pope Francis explained why he chose the name: “For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.”
3. When Argentinians awoke early to watch the inaugural mass of the first South American pope and Pope Francis — the former archbishop of Buenos Aires — called the crowds gathered in the capital city before the service began.
Thousands of people gathered in the city’s main square to watch their native son’s first mass, scheduled to begin at 5:30 a.m. in Buenos Aires. Two hours before the mass started, a call from Pope Francis was patched through to the speakers set up around the square. The pope blessed the cheering crowds and asked, “Don’t forget this bishop, who though far away, cares so much for you.”
4. When Pope Francis didn’t let the office of the papacy change him after he was elected.
The new pope took the shuttle bus with the other bishops after he was named the new leader of the Catholic Church and went to the hotel where he had been staying during the conclave the day after he was elected to pay his bill. A Vatican spokesman said the pope returned to the hotel to collect his suitcase and paid his bill “as a good example” to the other bishops.
5. When he cast off the fancier trimmings of the office of the papacy in favor of simple dress and living conditions.
Unlike his predecessor (below), Pope Francis (above) decided to dress simply as the leader of the Catholic Church, rejecting the traditional red shoes and choosing to live in the Vatican guest house, not the papal apartments. He also chose to travel in a used car as opposed to the traditional papal Mercedes.
6. When he broke with tradition and washed the feet of two young women and two Muslims on Holy Thursday.
Pope Francis caused a controversy by washing and kissing the feet of two women and two Muslim prisoners during the traditional Holy Thursday ceremony at the Casal del Marmo youth prison. The Vatican defended the action, saying that the prison housed men and women and excluding female prisoners would have been strange: “Washing feet was important to present the Lord’s spirit of service and love.”
7. Whenever he cheered for his favorite soccer team, San Lorenzo de Almagro.
Pope Francis has been a fan of Argentinian soccer club San Lorenzo de Almagro for years and even has an official club membership ID. After winning the Argentine national championship on Sunday, the team dedicated its win to the pope.
8. When he consistently spread a message of acceptance and love through his interviews.
Pope Francis surprised the world — and particularly the media — by reaching out to engage atheists in a dialogue, criticizing the church’s past focus on divisive social issues, and urged Catholics not to judge gay men and women.
9. Every time he prayed with sick men and women.
10. When he wasn’t afraid to get a little bit silly.
The pope donned a red nose to celebrate with a newlywed couple, who met through volunteering at a charity that brings clown therapy to sick children, at the Vatican.
11. When he refused to send away a small child who ran up onto the stage at the Vatican to be close to him.
Pope Francis allowed a little boy who ran up onto the stage during his homily to stay with him, even sitting the child on his chair.
12. When he met with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and called him his “brother.”
The newly elected Pope Francis met with the pope emeritus 10 days after he was named the leader of the church, in the first meeting between a pope and a former pope in recorded history.
13. When 3 million people showed up to hear Pope Francis say mass in Rio de Janeiro at the end of World Youth Day celebrations.
Young men and women from all over the world camped out on Copacabana beach to celebrate the Eucharist with the pope.
14. When he took this amazing selfie.
Easily the coolest selfie of 2013.
15. When he revealed his somewhat eclectic past.
After celebrating mass with a working-class church on the edge of Rome, the pope chatted with parishioners and said that his work removing troublemakers from Buenos Aires clubs as a bouncer helped teach him how to bring people back into the church when he became a priest.
16. Every time he met with young children.
17. When he made a habit of cold-calling men and women who sent him letters and talking to them.
Pope Francis enjoyed talking to members of his flock who wrote to him in 2013. Among the many people he called were a pregnant Italian woman whose boyfriend pressured her to have an abortion, a rape victim, and his newspaper deliveryman in Argentina.
18. Each and every time he was approachable and adorable when interacting with the faithful.
The pope’s informal, accessible style has encouraged many lapsed Catholics around the world to start going to Mass again.