Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis in Vatican City Date in the current year: March 13, 2024

Anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis in Vatican City Most public holidays in Vatican City are religious feasts such as Epiphany, Assumption Day, Nativity of Mary, Christmas Day, and others. However, there are two exceptions: the anniversary of the foundation of Vatican City and the anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. The latter is celebrated on March 13.

The pope is the bishop of Rome, the leader of the Catholic Church, and the head of state of Vatican City (since the formation of the independent Vatican City State in 1929). The current pope is Francis, who was elected on March 13, following the resignation of Benedict XVI due to his advanced age.

Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires. Born to Italian parents, he was raised Catholic. Bergoglio studied at the Inmaculada Concepción Seminary in Buenos Aires and entered the Society of Jesus as a novice in 1958. He officially became a Jesuit two years later. After finishing his theological studies, Bergoglio was ordained to the priesthood in 1969.

Before being elected pope, Bergoglio served as the provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina, Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires, and Archbishop of Buenos Aires. As a cardinal, he served at several administrative positions in Rome. After the death of John Paul II in 2005, Bergoglio participated as a cardinal elector in the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI).

Benedict XVI resigned on February 28, 2013, citing age and poor health. The papal conclave of 2013 was convened to elect his successor. On the second day of the conclave (March 13), Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the new pope. He took the pontifical name of Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assissi.

Upon his election, Pope Francis became the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, the first from the Americas, and the first non-European pope since Pope Gregory III, who was Syrian. In addition, he is the first pope to take the pontifical name of Francis, and his official papal name has no regal number. He would be retrospectively called Francis I if and when one of his successors chooses the name Francis.

Pope Francis’s motto is Miserando atque eligendo, meaning lowly but chosen. Referring to Jesus’ mercy towards sinners, it is taken from the homilies of Venerable Bede on Saint Matthew’s Gospel.

The papal inauguration of Pope Francis took place on March 19, 2013. It was attended by official delegations from 132 states and leaders of various religious groups, including the Patriarch of Constantinople, making it the first papal inauguration attended by the Ecumenical Patriarch in over a millennium.

The anniversary of Pope Francis’s election was first celebrated on March 13, 2014. When Francis is succeeded by the next pope, the date of the holiday will be changed accordingly. Another public holiday is observed in Vatican City to honor the name saint of the incumbent pope. As Jorge (George) is Francis’s birth name, Saint George’s Day on April 23 has been a public holiday in the Holy See since 2013.

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