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Checks in as cardinal, pays bill as Pope Francis

Osservatore Romano via Reuters

Newly elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, checks out of the church-run residence on March 14, where he had been staying in Rome. Pope Francis returned on Thursday to the Church-run residence where he was staying before becoming pontiff, and insisted on paying the bill, despite now effectively being in charge of the business, the Vatican said.

Marcos Brindicci / Reuters

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected to lead the Catholic Church following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. 

By Alastair Jamieson and Claudio Lavanga, NBC News

The Latin American pope’s election shattered Europe's centuries-old grip on the papacy, and his choice of name — in honor of the 12th century saint from Assisi — is widely seen as a nod to a new era of simplicity.

Lombardi said Pope Francis declined the official papal car for his first journey from the Sistine Chapel, choosing instead to board a bus with cardinals who had just elected him.

Later, at dinner, the new pope prompted laughter by responding to their toast with the remark: "May god forgive you for what you have done."

Francis returned Thursday to the church-run hostel where he had stayed ahead of the conclave and insisted on paying the bill.

"He was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do," a Vatican spokesman said. He did not disclose how much the bill totaled. Read more.

Story: Trading in the bus for a butler: The new pope's new lifestyle

Editor's note: NBC News received this photo on March 15