White smoke billowed from the chimney above the Vatican signaling the election of a new pope.
Immediately rain soaked crowds in St. Peter's square sent up a cheer that almost drowned out the bells celebrating the election on the fifth ballot.
All the networks broke into programming with the news.
Marching bands emerged and a contingent of Swiss guards marched across the square. All day long the faithful waited in the rain, their eyes glued to the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected on the fifth ballot. He is known as a great friend to the poor - a humble man who uses public transport and cooks all his meals.
He took the name Francis the First. His selection as the 266th pope was announced by billowing white smoke.
A live video feed of the chimney was there for all the world to see. It even turned a seagull into an instant celebrity! For almost an hour he was perched right on top, as if standing guard. Nicknamed the "Sistine Seagull," he sparked a flurry of tweets.
The 115 cardinals voted five times before electing the new pope. They remained behind locked doors for two days.
The white smoke was generated when the ballots were burned in these furnaces along with a chemical that left no room for ambiguity about the results.
For whom the bells tolled? They tolled for a new pope.