What's in a name?
VATICAN CITY — In choosing a name that no other pope had ever taken, Pope Francis could be signaling that he sees the need for change in the Roman Catholic Church. • The name recalls two of the church's most famous saints.
One is Francis of Assisi, the man from the Umbrian hill town who renounced a wealthy, dissolute lifestyle to found the Franciscan order of friars in 1209, embracing a life of poverty and simplicity and going out into the countryside to preach a message of joy and peace.
The other is Francis Xavier, a globe-trotting Spaniard who became one of Christianity's greatest missionaries and was a founding figure of the Jesuit order, of which the new pope is a member.
Pope Francis didn't cite either of those famous men when he made his first public speech as pontiff on Wednesday night, but within an hour of his presentation to the world from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, his choice of name was being hailed as heralding what could be his priorities — and perhaps his style — at the helm of a troubled church.
Umbria's bishops sent congratulations in a message noting that the new pope has taken up the name of the saint of Assisi, one of Italy's patron saints, who in his time sought to ''renew the church."
''It was precisely Francis the Lord asked to repair his church in ruins," the bishops said.