Best wishes as Pope Francis turns 77

Pope greets child after celebrating Pentecost Mass at VaticanPope Francis is 77 years old today, Tuesday, December 17th. Among the many plans for marking the recurrence are a special visit from a delegation of players and managers from San Lorenzo de Almagro, the Holy Father’s favorite soccer club (to which he is also chaplain), who will present him with their recent league championship trophy.

Festivities began at the weekend, with the young patients served by the Vatican’s pediatric dispensary singing “Happy Birthday to the Holy Father during the course of their audience with him in Paul VI Hall. Faithful well-wishers are also sending the Holy Father a four-foot-tall birthday card featuring a depiction of “Mary, Un-doer of Knots”, which is one of Mary’s honorific titles that is dear to Pope Francis.

The head of Vatican Radio’s Spanish-language programme for Latin America, Fr. Hugo Guillermo Ortiz, SJ, who lived with then-Fr Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, when the man who would become Pope Francis had charge of a parish attached to the Jesuit formation house of which he was rector from 1980-1986 in his native Argentina, told us the Holy Father’s greatest joy is in making others happy: especially children. “We had a special assignment,” he said, “to make the children happy.” That there were teaching and faith formation programmes for the parish goes without saying, he explained. “Nevertheless,” said Fr Ortiz SJ, “Making [people] happy was a principal pastoral challenge – and the parish was an incredible school.”

Source: Vatican Radio

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