Time magazine has named Pope Francis its person of the year.
“He took the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing,” Time wrote in its announcement. “The septuagenarian superstar is poised to transform a place that measures change by the century.”
Following him in the top five were NSA leaker Edward Snowden, gay rights activist Edith Windsor, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
The top 10 also included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, singer Miley Cyrus, President Barack Obama, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services.
Pope Francis is a man of many firsts: the first non-European Pope in the modern era; the first pontiff from South America; and the first Jesuit to be elected head of the Roman Catholic Church.
In his first public act, the new Pope broke with tradition by asking the estimated 150,000 people packed into St. Peter’s Square to pray for him, rather than bless the crowd first.
Francis, 76, was born in Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936. The son of an Italian immigrant, he trained as a chemist before deciding to become a priest.
The new Pope “comes at a time when the church seemed to be needing a huge burst of new energy,” Time contributor Howard Chua-Eoan said in a video announcing the magazine’s decision.