More than 10,000 young people have signed a giant birthday card for Pope Francis, offering their prayers and well-wishes for the Holy Father’s 77th birthday on Dec. 17.
“We wanted to give the Pope a gift he would truly appreciate; something he would be proud of,” said Mark Nelson, founder of Catholic to the Max, the Ohio-based arts and gifts outlet company behind the initiative.
The 4-foot-tall card consists of a tri-fold plaque featuring an image and prayer of one of the Holy Father’s favorite Marian devotions, “Mary, Un-doer of Knots.” After collecting both physical and digital signatures, Catholic to the Max intends to send the card to the Pope later this month.
Nelson said that the idea to give the Holy Father gifts of prayer and service came from the Pope’s first “Urbi et orbi,” when he asked that the faithful pray for him before he imparted his blessing.
“From day one, he has asked all of us to pray for him and to serve the poor. This is our response,” Nelson said.
The card traveled to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis last month and acquired signatures from more than 10,000 young people.
Now that the card is back in Steubenville, Ohio, it has been gathering signatures at local Catholic parishes and Franciscan University.
A website has also been created to allow even more youth to digitally sign the card, which will be sent in time to reach the Holy Father for his birthday.
Well-wishers can choose from different spiritual gifts or works of mercy to give the Pontiff on his birthday, such as visiting the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Rosary or serving the poor.
Those wishing to sign the card can do so until Dec. 9, when the pages containing physical and digital signatures will be organized and bound together with the Marian image and sent to the Holy Father.
To learn more about Catholic to the Max’s project, visit popefrancisbirthdaycard.com.