VATICAN CITY — On Dec. 17, Pope Francis will celebrate his 80th birthday, which he will spend doing what he normally does: offering Mass and meeting with various heads of state and members of the Roman Curia.
However, as a novelty of this year’s papal birthday festivities, the Vatican has invited faithful from around the world to send their well-wishes to the Pope through a special email address in different languages.
According to a Dec. 13 communiqué from the Vatican, Francis will kick off his special day by offering Mass as usual. However, instead of the 7am celebration in the St. Martha Guesthouse, he’ll hold Mass inside the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace with all of the resident cardinals in Rome.
The rest of the day, business will proceed as usual, since Pope Francis has several meetings on his agenda.
Among those he’ll meet are Marie Louise Coleiro Prec, president of the Republic of Malta; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Bishop Vitus Hounder of Chur, Switzerland; and the Nomadelfia community of Italy.
The Vatican is also promoting the Pope’s birthday on social media, encouraging users to take to their accounts with the hashtag: #Pontifex80.
For those who want to send Pope Francis a note, they can write to him at the following email addresses, divided by language:
While the Pope’s birthday this year might be a “normal” day on the job, he will likely be greeted by a chorus of “Happy birthday” at some point, and could be given a cake, which has happened in previous years.
When he turned 78 in 2014, shouts of “Tanti auguri” — “Happy Birthday!” — filled St. Peter's Square as Pope Francis circled around throngs of pilgrims on his popemobile during his weekly general audience.
He stopped to blow out candles on a giant cake given to him by a group of Legionaries of Christ seminarians. He also paused to take a sip of mate tea, a traditional South American drink popular in Argentina, offered to him by pilgrims.
As he turned 79, he was greeted by a burst of “Happy birthday” and the smell of birthday cake as a crowd of young people from the Italian lay movement Azione Cattolica gathered to festively wish him a happy birthday.
At this week’s Dec. 14 audience, the faithful sang Happy Birthday to him, and the Pope joked that it was bad luck to do so.