By Seàn-Patrick Lovett
Pope Francis turns 81 today
Pope Francis turns 81 years old today. He chose to celebrate his birthday on Sunday morning by meeting with a group of children being treated by the Pediatric Dispensary of Santa Marta in the Vatican. Meanwhile, visitors and well-wishers from all over the worlds gathered in St. peter’s Square at noon to pray the Angelus with him and to express their own affection and greetings. Present in the Square were many children from Rome who had brought along small images of the Baby Jesus for the Pope to bless. According to tradition, these will be placed in Christmas nativity scenes in homes around the city.
Previous Papal birthdays
Last year, Pope Francis celebrated his 80th birthday by inviting a group of homeless people to join him for breakfast at his Santa Marta residence. Later in the day, he celebrated Mass with the cardinals present in Rome and quipped that a “good sense of humor helps us to get along”. Two years ago, on December 17th, 2015, he celebrated together with a group of young people from Italian Catholic Action. His message to them on that occasion was to continue following a path of goodness, forgiveness, peace and solidarity.
In 2014, Pope Francis’ 78th birthday fell on a Wednesday and he was entertained during the General Audience by one hundred circus performers who danced the tango for him in St. Peter’s Square. The previous year, his 77th birthday and his first as Pope, he chose to celebrate Mass together with homeless people whom he then invited to join him for breakfast at the Casa Santa Marta where he lives.