Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is expected to explain to the world why
he chose the name Pope Francis.
There has never been a Pope Francis before - though a number of
saints bear this name. The most famous of these is St Francis of
Assisi, the 13th-century Italian founder of the Franciscan order.
He was a man who turned his back on power and wealth to dedicate
himself to a radical life of Christian poverty, evangelisation and
St Francis was so holy that, according to Catholic belief, he
received the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ, in his own body
while still alive. He also said that that he had heard a voice from
a large crucifix telling him repeatedly to "rebuild my house, which
you see is falling down".
The choice of the name might also be connected with one of the
first Jesuits: St Francis Xavier - a close colleague of the 16th
founder, St Ignatius of Loyola. St Francis was a brilliant
missionary who took the Catholic faith to India and the Far East
after Ignatius persuaded him to turn his back on a medical
The missionary zeal of this man might indicate the ambitions of
Pope Francis as the Catholic Church is confronted with the crisis
of the loss of faith and is once again redoubling its efforts to
win souls for Christ - but this time in the secular West.
The Society of Jesus was for 400 years the most popular male
order in the Roman Catholic Church, and its members were known for
the bravery and academic excellence.
During the Reformation, the popes sent Jesuits on the English
mission to build up the RC Church under the noses of the
Elizabethan authorities. Many of them, such as St Edmund Campion
and St Robert Southwell, shed their blood on the scaffold of
Tyburn, and they have also died as martyrs in many other countries
of the world where they were sent to do the bidding of the
They grew so powerful that the head of the Jesuits was known as
the "black pope". The order was suppressed in the 18th century
after their opposition to slavery infuriated the royal houses of
France, Spain, and Portugal. It was later revived.