Pope Francis has been met with accolades and crowds of supporters as he steers the Catholic Church in a new direction.
Pope Francis arrived in Jordan on the first day of his three-day trip to the Middle East, meeting with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania at the royal palace. The pope also planned to travel to the West Bank and Israel over the next two days, meeting with Muslim and Jewish leaders.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on March 13 extended a formal open invitation for Pope Francis to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. While the Vatican has not announced any plans for the pope to visit the U.S., reports indicate he may make a trip in 2015.
Pope Francis celebrated his 77th birthday on Dec. 17. In the morning, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski (pictured speaking with the pope), asked three homeless men sleeping outside of the Vatican if they would join the pope for his "birthday party" of morning Mass and breakfast.
Also on his birthday, the pontiff named early Jesuit Father Pierre Favre (aka Peter Faber) a saint. Francis -- the first Jesuit pope -- employed a rule known as "equivalent canonization" to name the 16th century priest a saint by decree.
The pope cancelled a trip to a Rome hospital June 27 due to an "unexpected indisposition." It's the third time this month the pope has had to scale back his activities due to illness. Pope Francis has several pre-existing conditions including a partial right lung and a bad back.
The LGBT U.S. magazine "The Advocate" named Pope Francis its "Person of the Year" on Dec. 17 saying, "[people shouldn't] underestimate any pope's capacity for persuading hearts and minds in opening to LGBT... people."
TIME magazine named Pope Francis as its Person of the Year for 2013. The magazine praised the pope for his humility and eschewing of papal privileges to change the "music" of the Vatican City.
"Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated." Pope Francis
Pope Francis, the first pope from Latin America, was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He studied at the Theological Faculty of San Miguel and was ordained a Jesuit in 1969. He completed a doctoral dissertation in Germany and served as a spiritual director in Cordoba. He replaced Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in February.
Bergoglio was elected President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference in 2005 by a wide majority, and re-elected to the post in 2008. He has been praised for his treatment and attitude toward poor people.
For the first time since Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis, the Vatican defended his record on Mar. 15 over actions during civil unrest in his native Argentina in the 1970s. Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said there had never been a "concrete or credible accusation" against him.
If you don't have a Circa account yet, download and sign up using the free app for iPhone.