VATICAN CITY -- Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, 58, was elected the first non-Italian pope in 455 years Monday and took the name John Paul II.
He is one the youngest popes of modern times.
Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow, was elected after two days of voting by 111 cardinals locked up in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.
The last non-Italian pope was a Dutchman Hadrian VI, who died in 1523.
"I announce to you a great joy! Felici shouted from the central balcony of St. Peters Basilica for the second time in 53 days.
"Habemus Papam! (We have a pope)."
The crowd broke out into thunderous applause, tossing caps and handkerchiefs into the air as Felici prolonged the suspense.
Many went down on their knees praying or sobbing with happiness.
The new pontiff was born in the village of Waduwice near Krakow May' 18, 1920. He was ordained a priest at the age of 26.
The late Pope Paul VI made him a cardinal in 1967.
Wojtyla is the son of a working class couple and worked in a chemical factory himself to earn his way through Polish seminary.
He taught religious ethics in Polish seminaries and later at the University of Krakow.
His choice of the name John Paul II was an indication he intends to pursue the policies of his smiling predecessor whose reign was cut so short by sudden death 18 days before.
The announcement of Wojtyla s election by Senior Cardinal Deacon Pericle Felici stunned the more than 150,000 people gathered in St. Peters Square under a full moon.
Felici and the facade of St. Peters Basilica were lit by floodlights that pierced the darkness.
Within minutes, the crowd grew to about 300,000 and filled the elliptical square.
After announcing the new popes name, Felici went back inside the Basilica and the crowd waited tensely for the new pontiff to appear and deliver his first "urbi et orbi (to the city and the world) message.
Wojtyla had been noted as a firm opponent of the Communist regime in his native Poland but not as strong in his opposition as fellow Polish Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.
The first word that new pope had been elected by the assembled cardinals came when white smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel chimney over a moonlit St. Peters square.
"The smoke is white. We now have a new pope," Vatican Radio said in English.
The 100,000 people in the square went wild with delight as the smoke emerged from the chimney at 6:18 (10:18 a.m. PDT).
Inside the secret conclave chamber, the new pope chose his reign name and donned the gold Ring of the Fisherman that marks his office.
The plain gold ring is engraved with the papal seal and an image of St. Peter, believed by Roman Catholic to have been the first pope, casting fishing nets from a boat.
As the cardinals burned the ballots from their last votes, the new pope was led into the chapel sacristy and dressed in one of the three sets of white and gold papal vestments prepared in different sizes. Before walking out onto the central balcony of St. Peters basilica to impart his first blessing and greet his new flock he formally received the other 110 cardinals.
The cardinals each in turn kissed the ring and swore their obedience.
The selection of the pope came on the 7th ballot in the second day of voting by the conclave of cardinals.
In two votes this morning, black smoke had poured from the chapel causing cries of disappointment from the crowd jammed in St. Peters Square.
The cardinals burn their ballots only after every second vote but first they burn a special Italian army chemical flare to ensure a pure black or white signal to the outside world.
The cardinals failure made this conclave the fifth longest of the century.
It took 14 ballots to elect Pope Pius XI in 1922, 11 ballots for the election of John XXIH in 1958, 10 ballots for Leo XIV in 1914 and seven ballots for Pius X in 1903.
John Paul was elected in four ballots only 52 days ago.
The church princes held two ballots Monday after failing Sunday in four votes.
The cardinals, who entered their conclave Saturday evening, had spent two nights locked up in the sealed and stuffy confines of the Vatican Palace.
The inconclusive results of Sundays tirst tour ballots was signaled to a crowd of about 300,000 people in St. Peters Square and millions of television viewers around the world by puffs of black smoke from the 8-foot steel chimney atop the Sistine Chapel.
John Paul, the smiling former patriarch of Venice who reigned as pope only 34 days before dying of a heart attack Sept. 28, was elected on the fourth ballot in August after just eight hours and 54 minutes of voting.
Though conclave election deliberations are top secret, church sources speculated Sundays four inconclusive votes meant that conservative and moderate blocs of cardinals had been unable to elect one of their own men or settle on a compromise candidate.
Church sources had said Ursi and Pappalardo could eventually emerge as compromise candidates long with cardinals Pericle Felici, 67, and Sebastiano Baggio, 65, both of the Vatican and both conservatives.