.- Coinciding with Easter Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 79th birthday yesterday, receiving greetings and well-wishes from around the world.
Pope Ratzinger, who was born in Marktl am Inn on April 16, 1927, began receiving greetings several days ago. According to the Archdiocese of Munich, more than half a million have been sent over the internet.
Greetings have poured in from all continents, although most have come from his native region of Bavaria. Some have even sent greetings in Latin.
The president of the Italian republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, sent greetings to the Pontiff on Saturday.
“I sent you my best wishes for this Easter, together will my desire that the occasion of your birthday finds you well,” Ciampi wrote in his message.
Referring to the Pope, the Italian leader wrote in the message that “your important apostolic mission in defense of the dignity of man, of freedom and solidarity, in order to combat intolerance and fanaticism-- which are always lurking about—radiates spiritual strength to all, believes and non-believers alike.”