Yesterday, at the end of the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the faithful sang “Happy Birthday to You”, while a Mexican journalist was giving the Pope a special cake on behalf of the Mexican people which will be welcoming him next February. A spontaneous, but not a casual action: today, in fact, Pope Francis turns 79. He is receiving greetings from all over the world. Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló, archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, in an interview with the Vatican Radio, has stressed “his role as successor of the mission of peace”.
Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló has also expressed his wish that Pope Francis may have ”all the necessary help from the Lord and from Our Lady to accomplish everything he wants to do in order to reform the Church, so that the latter, in its turn, may help humanity as whole; and that with this support, he may continue with serenity, tranquillity and that he may feel happy and joyful”.
Today, also the Italian president of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, has sent the Pontiff a message, in which he expresses his “best wishes for Your birthday and for the upcoming Christmas festivities. It is my great pleasure to add to these greetings those of all the Italian people whose esteem for You is deep and sincere”.
“Through your apostolic journeys to areas of the world that are often forgotten, You have become a bearer of a message of universal peace, which has found wide acceptance in Italy and throughout the world, touching the hearts of both believers and non-believers”, Mattarella has added.
“Your journeys in Italy and the recent opening of the Holy Door have also provided a valuable opportunity to reaffirm the strength and the unique characteristics of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Italian State, which develop with special sensitivity towards the weakest strata of society and all those who, this year as never before, have sought in Italy and in Europe refuge from war, violence, and persecution. The recurrence of Holy Christmas – concludes the Head of State – invites us to reflect more and more attentively on these issues and on the many tragedies that are still plaguing humanity, but also on the message of hope and peace this happy anniversary carries with itself”.
Born to a family of Italian origins, more precisely from Piedmont region (Francis’ great-grandfather is a native of Montechiaro d’Asti, whereas his grandfather, Giovanni Angelo, was born in Bricco Marmorito of Portacomaro Station, a fraction of Asti). The Pope is the first-born of Mario’s five children. His father was an official of the railroads and in 1928 departed from the port of Genoa in search of better fortune to Buenos Aires. His mother was Regina Maria Sivori, a housewife whose maternal family came from Santa Giulia in Centaura, a hilly fraction of Lavagna, in the province of Genoa.