TODAY   |  November 10, 2013

‘The people’s Pope’ not afraid of clowning around

Pope Francis donned a bright red nose to congratulate a newlywed couple that uses clowns to cheer up children for charity. It’s just one reason that people across the world admire him for his open and humble demeanor. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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>>> since the day he assumed the papacy, it was clear pope francis was going to be different than the men who came before him, from his simple ways to his openness and accessibility. kristen dahlgren has more on the man who is quickly becoming the people's pope.

>> reporter: like the head of the catholic church has for years, pope francis offered blessings this morning. with every audience it's clear this pope is unlike any we've ever seen. he's already called the people's pope, open to everyone, humble in his dress and lifestyle and not afraid to clown around a little.

>> he has a playful side and he's not afraid to show it.

>> reporter: on wednesday the head of the world's 1.2 billion catholics donned a bright red nose to congratulate a newlywed couple that uses clowns to cheer up children for charity. when a 7-year-old recently climbed on stage with the pope, hugging his leg and even helping himself to the papal chair, pope francis didn't bat an eye, affectionately ruffling the boy's hair, even his aides tried to get him off stage. pope francis has made himself a champion of those less fortunate. saturday he greeted hundreds in wheelchairs, one by one. this photo from last week has gone viral. pope francis embracing a man disfigured with neuro fibromy ptosis, the same disorder as the so-called elephant man.

>> francis is a man who clearly relishes the idea to be with the people.

>> reporter: it's all in a day's work for this modern pope who has a twitter handle and drives his own vintage 1984 renault around vatican city , almost like an ordinary guy who happens to have the world watching to see what he'll do next. for "today," kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new