Pope Francis Celebrates 81st Birthday

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
19 Dec 2017

The Pope celebrated his 81st birthday in Vatican City this week surrounded by little helpers from a nearby Catholic school and an extra long pizza pie.

Pope Francis blew out his birthday candle on the pizza to the delight of the young children.

Francis then told the children, who use a Vatican health service, to "eat all four meters (13 feet)," saying it will make them grow.

He took advantage of having the parents in attendance to give them this advice.

"Take care of the children's happiness, don't make them sad. When children see there are problems at home, that their parents argue, they suffer. Don't make them sad. They must always grow up with joy."

The Pope didn't eat lunch with them, but he did take a group photo before leaving.

Earlier, thousands of children in St. Peter's Square shouted birthday wishes to Francis. He replied from his window overlooking the square: "Thanks a lot, thanks a lot."

His birthday coincided with his weekly Sunday appearance to faithful.

The Holy Father also received this cake with a drawing by artist Maupal. On it, Pope Francis carries the divided world on his back, to heal its wounds.

Pizza for parties in Italy is often baked in long form, instead of round pies, which are meant instead for individual portions. At the Vatican, rectangular-shaped pieces of pizza were stretched end-to-end on a table and a tall, white candle stuck out in the middle.