Viral Photo Shows Pope Francis' Dedication to the Poor, Vulnerable

A viral photo of the newly elected Pope Francis shows the Argentinian cardinal's humble lifestyle of servitude, and highlights his already legendary dedication to serving those who are most vulnerable in society.

The photo, reportedly taken in 2006 at a Children's Hospital in the neighborhood of Palermo, Buenos Aires, shows the newly-minted pope kissing the feet of a young, wheelchair stricken boy suffering from cancer.

A caption accompanying the photo reads, in Spanish: "Francisco I: Un Servidor," translated in English to: "Francis I: A Server."

The pope, who previously served as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was visiting the Children's Hospital on the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, a Catholic tradition which recognizes the Last Supper of Jesus before his crucifixion.

Along with kissing the feet of this ailing child, he also washed and kissed the feet of 11 other sick children at the hospital, a practice which he has repeated with HIV patients and drug addicts, among others considered to be suffering in society.

The pope has been hailed for his simplistic, humble lifestyle, as he reportedly refused to live in the archbishop's mansion during his time as Buenos Aires archbishop in the late 1990s, instead opting for an apartment.

The pope also reportedly opts for public modes of transportation, such as the bus, cooks his own meals, and previously slept on a simple bed in a small room in downtown Buenos Aires heated by only a stove.

The newly-elected pope lives by the motto "Miserando Atque Eligendo," which translates to "lowly, yet chosen," and he has been described by religious leaders as a champion for the poor and suffering in the world.

"Even his critics acknowledge that he's a humble person," Princeton law professor and Christian conservative thinker Robert P. George told Yahoo! News.

U.S. President Barack Obama described Pope Francis as "a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us," according to Reuters.

Additionally, the World Communion of Reformed Churches said in a statement to the pope: "We are touched by your humility ... The name you have chosen is a sign for us that attention to the plight of the poor and justice for all people will be important for you."

The new pope reportedly chose to name himself Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, a choice which holds great significance to the Catholic Church, according to Vatican officials.

St. Francis of Assisi was "a saint that transcends the Catholic Church and is loved by all people, a saint who reached out for simplicity, ... poverty and care for the poor," the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a spokesman for the Vatican, said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Pope Francis is a Jesuit, or a member of the Christian male religious order in the Catholic Church, although many contend that he lives more like a Franciscan, one who adheres to the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi which include caring for the poor, addressing economic inequality, and caring for the vulnerable in the world.

The Roman Catholic Church decided on a new pope on Wednesday, after Pope Francis gained the necessary two-thirds majority vote by the papal conclave on the second day of voting in Rome, Italy.

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope as well as the first pope from Latin America, and he has been described as a social conservative who is a staunch defender of human life and opposes same-sex marriage.

The newly-elected pope began his first full day in his new office on Thursday.

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