The death of American journalist James Foley at the hands of the Islamic State has been mourned internationally since the tragic news broke.
On Thursday, Pope Francis personally called Foley's grieving family in Rochester, New Hampshire, to "console them for their loss and assure them of his prayers," according to Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.
Foley's relatives were "deeply grateful and moved by the pope's gesture," reports NBC.
Prayer was an important part of Foley's life, according to a letter published on Marquette University's website. Foley graduated in 1996 from the Catholic, Jesuit university. He shared his experiences during the first time he was kidnapped in 2011 by Qaddafi loyalists in the midst of the Libyan civil war, writing:
I prayed [my mom would] know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.
I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.
After his death was confirmed, his mother Diane Foley posted a message on the Facebook page, "Free James Foley." She wrote:
We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.
We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.
We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.
As a global leader, Pope Francis has been vocal about the need to stop the violent acts perpetrated by the Islamic State. On a personal level, the call to Foley's relatives shows that he still takes on the role of a pastor, ministering to families in their time of bereavement.