Nightly News   |  October 04, 2013

Pope Francis: A man on a mission

Walking in the footsteps of his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis spent time at a center for the physically and mentally challenged, engaging each person he met. The Pope also visited a soup kitchen. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a history-making visit as pope francis visited the birthplace of st. francis in assissi, italy. when the pope took the name francis , the first to do so, he was sending a message about refocusing the search and serving the poor. he delivered that unmistakable message again today and nbc's anne thompson is traveling with him.

>> reporter: pope francis is a man on a mission. today walking in the footsteps of his namesake st. francis of assissi who gave up wealth to serve the poor. the same mission this pope wants for the catholic church he leads. today francis lingered taking time to reach back to many reaching out to him. his first stop, a center for the physically and mentally challenged, engaging each person he met. the pope chose to have lunch at a soup kitchen . led to the table by a child for a meal of lasagna and roast beef. 60 people a day are served here. where did the pope sit?

>> he was sitting there.

>> reporter: he says the pope ate little, but his presence made those who society often ignores feel important.

>> he don't speak a lot. he listened.

>> reporter: in the same room where eight centuries ago st. francis re announced his wealth, pope francis remembered the hundreds of people feared dead in yesterday's ship wreck off the coast of sicily. this, he said, was a day to cry and a day to call the church to be more simple like st. francis . in assissi, there are signs of worldliness, many bearing the pope's efface. here, tourism is a well oiled machine. this is one of italy's most popular destinations, profiting from pilgrims and nonbelievers alike. caught up in the enthusiasm of the day this couple from philadelphia.

>> the love coming from the people for this pope is amazing.

>> reporter: a poll shows american catholics back the pope's determination to change the focus of the church. something he pressed ahead with this week helped by eight hand-picked cardinals. at the end of the day , this pope, revived by the people as he worked to revive the church. anne thompson , nbc news, assissi.