TODAY   |  December 25, 2013

Pope Francis celebrates midnight mass

Pope Francis presented a message of peace and humility during the Christmas Eve midnight mass in Vatican City. NBC’s Martin Fletcher reports.

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>>> pope francis celebrated his first christmas eve mass as pontiff tuesday in front of a packed house at st . parties basilica. nbc's martin fletcher is in vatican city with more. martin, good morning and merry christmas .

>> reporter: andrea, good morning and merry christmas to you, too. after leading the catholic world in prayer on christmas eve , at noon here today, pope francis gave his first christmas message as pope this time, meant for the ears of the whole world and it was very strong. the faithful still throng st . peter's square to hear the first non-european pope in 1300 years. he called on the prince of peace to turn hearts away from violence. in syria, south sudan , nigeria, the congo, and he called for successful peace talks between israel and the palestinians, god, pope francis said, is peace.

>> he really seems humble. he seems like he is different and wants to make a change.

>> he is very dedicated to the humble origins he has in representing the whole.

>> reporter: last night in st . peter's basilica, pope francis underlined his homily by overturning tradition. instead of a vatican aide placing the statue of baby jesus in the manger, pope francis did with a kiss of humility and love. god loves us, he said. he gave us his son to be light in our darkness, a traditional christmas lesson from a most untraditional pope who has charmed the world.

>> he has got the catholic church back on message. let's say that. the core business of the church is preaching the gospel. that is what the pope is doing in words and in gestures.

>> reporter: reaching out to all, especially children, the poor around the afflicted. but he is also looking inward into the workings of the church, determined to correct corruption and priestley abuse. the new year will see the new pope try to put his words into action. andrea?

>> all right, martin, thank you