Pope Francis has achieved a new milestone, joining generations of influential figures in the worlds of politics, pop culture and life who have covered Rolling Stone.

The 266th and current of the Roman Catholic Church, who cracks a smile and waves to the camera in the cover photo, has become a rock star of sorts.

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In a sign of how far the gay rights movement has come, Pope Francis has been named 2013 Person of the Year by The Advocate, a prominent LGBT magazine.

"While 2013 will be remembered for the work of hundreds in advancing marriage equality," The Advocate wrote, "it will also be remembered for the example of one man."

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Pope Francis' compassionate nature was poignantly captured in an instantly iconic image of him tenderly comforting a sick man by kissing him on the head.

At the end of his General Audience in Vatican City on Wednesday, when 50,000 attendees gathered with him, someone snapped the picture of the pontiff:

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