A humble beginning for Pope Francis

Pope Francis leaves Rome's Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica
Pope Francis leaves Rome's Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in a car after a private prayer, March 14, 2013 in Rome.

(CBS News) VATICAN CITY - The Vatican likes to think it puts on the greatest ecclesiastical show on Earth. Judging from the way it selected and unveiled its new leader, that reputation seems secure. It was more than a show; for the Church, it was an event of great significance.

On his first day in office, the new pope's first act was private, and humble; a trip to a Rome church -- in a Volkswagen -- for quite prayer.

His chosen name is Francis, the first Pope Francis there's ever been. The new pontiff is not from Italy, nor even from Europe -- the first time that's happened, too. The former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio may have an Italian name, but his parents emigrated to Argentina, where he became the Bishop of Buenos Aires.

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The Catholic Church is now led by a man from Latin America, where its greatest block of believers live, but the crowd in Rome didn't seem to mind, especially when the first words out of the new pope's mouth reinforced the idea that he was a different kind of pontiff... one with a common touch.

"Brothers, sisters, good evening," he said to the thousands gathered in front of St. Peter's Basilica. Then, in his first public religious gesture, Pope Francis turned the Church upside down: He asked the crowd for its blessing on him in silent prayer. You could have heard a rosary drop in St. Peter's square.

Francis' background is not as a parish priest who moved up the ranks. He's a member of the Jesuit order -- a fiercely independent branch of the Church devoted to running teaching institutions and social programs. Yet, until now, his conservative views on birth control, homosexuality and women's role in the Church have not made him popular with his relatively progressive Jesuit brothers.

Francis is no friend of the entrenched Vatican bureaucracy, widely believed to need a complete shake-up. And now he's the boss. For the tens of thousands who had waited in the cold Roman night to see the new pontiff, that seemed like a good thing.

Rachel Donofrio and Marion Delo Pena, from New York, were among the thousands in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday night.

"More people can relate to him," one of the young women told CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips. "That's what we need right now."

There's still some housekeeping to clean up, literally. The Vatican says Pope Francis will live in a small, not terribly elegant apartment in the residence the Cardinals stayed in during the conclave.

The opulent Papal apartment has been sealed and, CBS News is told, needs some work. In the meantime, Pope Francis will be busy -- including a scheduled meeting with the now-Pope Emeritus Benedict, who's still living at the Papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo until his new Vatican digs are ready.

Click on the player above to see Mark Phillips' full report from Vatican City.