Pope Francis has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year, beating out competition from intelligence services whistleblower Edward Snowden, Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, and pop star Miley Cyrus.
The 76-year-old head of the Catholic church, who became the 226th Pope in March (13), was hailed as a "septuagenarian superstar" by publication's bosses, who praised him for changing the tone, perception and focus of the largest religion in the world.
Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs writes, "For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world's largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgement with mercy, Pope Francis is Time's 2013 Person of the Year. Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly - young and old, faithful and cynical - as Pope Francis."
Former U.S. secret service agent Snowden was runner-up for his efforts to expose the extent of surveillance operations in the U.S. and U.K., and Cyrus also made the shortlist for her headline-grabbing antics throughout the year.