VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis celebrated his 81st birthday in Vatican City on Sunday with an extra-long pizza pie.
Surrounded by little helpers from a nearby Catholic children’s clinic, Francis counted to three before blowing out a single white candle on his birthday pie, according to Catholic News Service.
Children and employees from a #Vatican pediatric clinic celebrated #PopeFrancis' 81st birthday Dec. 17 with a party at the Paul VI audience hall. After being serenaded with song and dance, the pope blew out the candle on a 13-foot long pizza made specially for him. pic.twitter.com/i8xWMRq2cb
— Catholic News Service (@CatholicNewsSvc) December 18, 2017
Francis jokingly encouraged the children, who are receiving medical care from the Vatican’s Pediatric Dispensary of Santa Marta, to eat his birthday present.
“Eat the four meters [13 feet] of pizza: eat well, it will do you good, it will make you grow!” he said.
He was later presented with a more traditional birthday cake in the Vatican’s colors of white and yellow.
The Pontiff was born to Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Dec. 17, 1936. This was his fifth birthday as the head of the Catholic church.
During his pizza party, Francis advised the children to speak often with God and to care for their grandparents.
“The joy of children is a treasure,” he said.
Later, 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.
In previous years, Francis has celebrated his birthday by having breakfast with homeless people and with young Catholics.
Pilgrims have also used Francis’ birthday to show their appreciation for the world’s first Latin American pope.