The Fighter star met the Pontiff when he gave a speech at Philadelphia’s World Meeting of Families event last September (16), but was surprised when the cleric made a request of him.

“He just kept saying for me to pray for him,” Wahlberg told at the National Board of Review Gala in Midtown last week (ends08Jan17). “I love Pope Francis!... I just love how he's bringing the church into the next century."

And while Deepwater Horizon heartthrob Wahlberg has dominated the box office in recent years, the Pope was not aware of the Boston born action man's star status.

“He hasn't watched television since the late 70s, early 80s, so he had no idea who I was, which was nice, and we had a lovely little conversation,” he continued. When asked by the news outlet if he recommended to the Pope that he catch up on his 1997 classic Boogie Nights, the former Calvin Klein model, who shot to fame in the film as anatomically blessed porn star Dirk Diggler, laughed, “No, I did not!”.

Wahlberg's rise as a movie star came after a troubled youth, which saw him serve jail time for an assault and battery on two Vietnamese men as a teenager. However, he became a devout Catholic following his younger years, and previously called Catholicism “the anchor that supports everything I do in life". In September (16) he stopped pursuing a 2014 request to be pardoned for the assaults.

Redemption is a theme Wahlberg has pursued in his work, and he recently told the Catholic Herald he is working on a biopic about Father Stuart Long, a former prize fighter who became a man of the cloth, with Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell.