Pope Francis marks 80th birthday: Birthday treats given to the poor and needy

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Pope Francis welcomed eight homeless people at his residence in the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse. These guests included two women and six men; who dined with the Pontiff at breakfast. With this breakfast, Pope Francis kicked start his 80th birthday celebrations. Moreover, special birthday treats were given to the poor and needy in soup kitchens and shelters throughout Rome, marking the special day.

Pope Francis celebrates 80th birthday

In the morning, eight guests including four Italians, two Romanians, one Moldavian and one Peruvian accompanied by Papal Almoner Bishop Konrad Krajewski arrived at his residence. The Pontiff met with the guests greeting each one personally and “affectionately.” The guests then presented the Pontiff with three large vases of sunflowers.

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The Pontiff then offered them Argentine sweets at the breakfast and invited them to attend his 8 a.m. Mass inside the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace. Cardinal Angelo Amato, Dean of the College of Cardinals, said, “Today we wanted to celebrate Holy Mass with you, to thank the Lord for having chosen you for this mission and for all the love with which you are carrying it out every day.”

At the same time Cardinal Angelo Amato assured closeness to the Pontiff, saying particularly on “this beautiful day of your life,” and assured him of his constant prayers for him before offering a cheer “Ad multos annos,” or “to many years!”

In his homily for Mass, Pope Francis also made his own reference, saying that day’s Gospel reading from Matthew recounted the genealogy of Jesus. “This is the meaning of today’s liturgy: the grace of memory. We need to ask for this grace: to not forget.”

“While the long Gospel passage might seem a bit “annoying,” it expresses the story of a God who wanted to be with his people to the point of making himself a man like each one of us. This is today’s grace: to remember,” he said, noting that in the story told in the Gospel we see that it’s both a story of grace, but also of sin. Along the path we always find grace and sin…even we, in our lives, find the same thing: moments of great fidelity to the Lord, of joy in service, and some bad moments of infidelity,” he said.

Pope Francis continued to receive birthday wishes throughout the day. He had already received almost 50,000 birthday messages from around the world via email, till Saturday morning only. Majority of these messages were in the English, Spanish and Italian languages, however, more than 1,000 came in Latin.