It’s the first time the name is being used by a pope, said CNN Vatican expert John Allen.
The name parallels one of the most venerated figures in the Roman Catholic Church, St. Francis of Assisi.
Allen described the name of Pope Francis as “the most stunning” choice and “precedent shattering.”
“There are cornerstone figures in Catholicism” such as St. Francis, Allen said. Figures of such stature as St. Francis seem “irrepeatable — that there can be only one Francis,” Allen added.
The name symbolizes “poverty, humility, simplicity and rebuilding the Catholic Church,” Allen said.
“The new pope is sending a signal that this will not be business as usual,” Allen said.