Vatican City, Dec 17, 2016 / 07:02 am
Pope Francis kicked off his 80th birthday by having breakfast with a group of homeless from around St. Peter’s and inviting them to Mass – but his giving didn’t stop there.
Throughout the day birthday treats and a special Christmas gift will be given to the poor and needy in soup kitchens and shelters throughout Rome in the name of the Pope in honor of his special day.
Francis started his birthday by welcoming eight homeless people, two women and six men, to his residence in the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse.
Accompanied by Papal Almoner Bishop Konrad Krajewski, the eight individuals come from different nationalities, and included four Italians, two Romanians, one Moldavian and one Peruvian. They had been in the area around St. Peter’s Basilica and the showers under the colonnade when they were invited by Krajewski in the early morning to join the Pope for breakfast.
At 7:15 a.m. Pope Francis came down and met them, greeting each one personally and “affectionately,” according to a Dec. 17 Vatican communique. The homeless then gave the Pope three large vases of sunflowers, which Francis immediately put in the chapel of the Saint Martha house where he celebrates daily Mass.
The group then made their way to the cafeteria for breakfast. Pope Francis sat with his guests and spoke with each of them before offering some typical Argentine sweets and inviting them to attend his 8 a.m. Mass with the resident cardinals in Rome inside the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, Dean of the College of Cardinals, offered a special greeting to the Pope, reminding him of his parents, Mario and Maria Regina Bergoglio, his family and all of the others “who have contributed to your formation.” He also recalled the moment of the conclave and noted that many of the cardinals sat alongside Francis as they elected him to guide the Church “in this important time in history.”
“Today we wanted to celebrate Holy Mass with you, to thank the Lord for having chosen you for this mission and for all the love with which you are carrying it out every day.”