Pope Francis has arrived in the town of Assisi to pray at the shrine of the 13th-Century saint whose name he adopted.
The pontiff is accompanied by eight cardinals chosen to help him shape a radical programme of reform for the Vatican.
The Pope has said he wants today’s Catholic Church to resemble St Francis of Assisi’s “church of the poor”.
He wants to use abandoned monasteries and convents to house refugees.
Pope Francis also says he wants to see a less hierarchical Church which is less centred on the Vatican.
Two days ago Pope Francis told Italian newspaper La Repubblica his namesake had “longed for a poor Church that looked after others, accepted monetary help and used it to help others with no thought of itself”.
“Eight-hundred years have passed and times have changed, but the ideal of a missionary and poor Church is still more than valid,” he said.
During his day-long “pilgrimage” to Assisi, the Pope is expected to meet groups of poor, sick and disabled people who are being looked after by Catholic orders or charities.
St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Italy.
Known in Italian as Il Poverello, or the Poor One, he was the son of a wealthy local cloth merchant who scandalized his family when he reached the age of 25 by dumping his expensive clothing and living in sackcloth, ministering to the poor for the rest of his life.
Pope Francis has become known for his candid views – unlike anything heard coming out of the Vatican during recent papacies.