How Will Pope Francis Spend His 80th Birthday On Saturday?
Pope Francis turns 80 on Saturday (17 December), but – as you might expect with this pontiff – the day will be very much business as usual.
Apart from a concelebrated mass in the Pauline Chapel where Pope Francis will preside with the cardinals resident in Rome, instead of the normal 7am celebration in the Saint Martha Guesthouse, the pope will carry out standard official duties.
Among others, he will meet with the President of the Republic of Malta, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, the Bishop of Chur, Switzerland, and the Community Nomadelfia of Italy.
However, in a novel twist and a concession to those who may attach more importance to the occasion than the pope himself, the Vatican today issued email addresses for people around the world to send birthday greetings to Francis in various languages. The addresses are:
PapaFrancisco80@vatican.va (Spanish / Portuguese)
Meanwhile, a special hashtag has been created on Social media for the pope's birthday: #Pontifex80.
Despite Pope Francis wanting a "normal" day, he may be accosted with presents and even a cake in St Peter's Square.
In 2014 when he turned 78, there were shouts of "Tanti auguri!" – "Happy Birthday!" – as the pope circled pilgrims on his popemobile during his weekly general audience.
He stopped to blow out candles on a cake given to him by a group of Legionaries of Christ seminarians, and paused to take a sip of mate tea, a traditional South American drink that is popular in Argentina and has been said to offer the "strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate".