Roman Catholic cardinals signaled today that they had reached agreement on a new pope during the second day of secret voting inside the Sistine Chapel.
White smoke rose from a stovepipe above the chapel in Vatican City as ballots from the afternoon’s vote were burned.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is the man that has been chosen to lead the world's estimated 1.2 billion Catholics. The 76-year-old will be known as Pope Francis, and he is the first pope from the Americas.
The cardinals were to vote four times daily until a single candidate obtained a two-thirds majority -- 77 votes -- at which point the smoke coming from the Sistine Chapel chimney was to white instead of black.
Voting takes place in silence, with no formal debate, until a decision is reached. If that fails to happen after three days, there may be a pause for prayer and informal discussion for a maximum of one day.
Before the conclave began there was no clear front-runner to succeed 85-year-old Benedict XVI, who abdicated last month, citing failing physical and mental strength. Bergoglio reportedly was the runner-up to Benedict during the last conclave in 2005.
Bookmakers were giving the shortest odds on Italy's cardinal Angelo Scola, the 72-year-old archbishop of Milan, who wanted to reform the Vatican's governance, pitting him against insiders from the Vatican curia.
Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported on Tuesday that Scola's supporters were confident he had the support of up to 50 cardinal electors.
However, Vatican watchers were tipping 60-year-old Hungarian cardinal Peter Erdo as a compromise choice.