- (PHOTO: commons.wikimedia.org)
The head of the Roman Catholic Church has been named TIME Magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2013.
In an announcement made by TIME on Wednesday morning, the Pontiff was given the honor for his impact on the global stage, stated TIME's managing editor Nancy Gibbs.
"He really stood out to us as someone who has changed the tone and the perception and the focus of one of the world's largest institutions in an extraordinary way," said Gibbs.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi, spokesman for Vatican City, said in remarks to the media that the honor was not a surprise.
"The Holy Father is not looking to become famous or to receive honors…But if the choice of Person of Year helps spread the message of the Gospel - a message of God's love for everyone - he will certainly be happy about that," said Lombardi, as reported by the AP.
Formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Argentinian clergyman was elected Pope in March after his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, opted to resign over health issues.
Noted as being the first Pontiff to hail from Latin America, Francis was also noteworthy for being the first member of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, to become head of the Catholic Church.
Since becoming Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis has garnered many headlines for his remarks on issues like abortion, homosexuality, atheism and capitalism.
Photos of the Pontiff embracing a severely deformed man and washing the feet of female inmates have gone viral online.
Many have even spoken of a "Pope Francis Effect," wherein the Pontiff's apparent change of tone has led many disaffected Catholics, especially in Europe and Latin America, to return to their church home.
First done in 1927 and originally known as the "Man of the Year" award, TIME's annual honor goes to a person – good or bad – whom TIME's editorial leadership believes most impacted the news for the year. In 2012, President Barack Obama won the honor and in 2013 was on the list of the 10 finalists for consideration.
Others whom the Pontiff beat out for the honor were Syrian President Bashar Assad, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Miley Cyrus, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, gay rights activist Edith Windsor, NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and Health and Human Services Department head Kathleen Sebelius.