Pope Francis called on followers to offer forgiveness to those who wrong them during a pilgrimage to his namesake's hometown marking the 800th anniversary of the Feast of Pardon initiated by St. Francis.

The pope acknowledged the difficulty of granting forgiveness during remarks inside the St. Maria of Angels Basilica. He said that "forgiveness is a caress." And he made a colloquial gesture to illustrate the point, saying, "It is far from the gesture, 'You will pay,'" as he flicked his thumb against his upper teeth.

The pope traveled briefly to Assisi on Thursday to pray at tiny church within the basilica that is considered the cradle of the Franciscan order. Throngs of well-wishers greeted the pope as he made his way through the basilica.