The world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics have a new spiritual leader.
As afternoon turned to evening in Vatican City on Wednesday, a little after 7 p.m. local time, white smoke rose from a chimney above the Sistine Chapel and bells rang through St. Peter's Square — the traditional signals that the church's cardinals have chosen a new pope.
Still to come: the identity of the cardinal chosen to take the now-retired Pope Benedict XVI's place.
Now, as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has said, the new pope and the church face a choice: "Whether to continue an inward looking conservative path or to open up to the broader world of the faithful and introduce more collegiality, as had been indicated by the reforms of the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago."
We'll have much more about the new pope and what his selection means as the day continues. Be sure to hit your "refresh" button to see our latest updates.
The papal selection came after five votes by the 115 cardinals eligible to cast ballots. They voted once on Tuesday, twice Wednesday morning and then twice again on Wednesday afternoon. It takes a two-thirds majority (77 in this case) to become pope.
Update at 2:55 p.m. ET. "And So I Say To You, You Are Peter."
"When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?'
"They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'
"He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'
"Simon Peter said in reply, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'
"Jesus said to him in reply, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
" 'And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
" 'I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' "