Pope Francis today blew out 79 candles on a giant “biodynamic” lemon cake made especially for his birthday and delivered to his St. Marta residence.
The low-calorie dessert, made from free-range eggs, Italian cream and Calabrian lemons, was the fruit of painstaking work by pastry chefs at Hedera, an ice cream shop nearby on Borgo Pio.
Head chef Massimo Grosso said the cake, whose icing sported the Jubilee of Mercy logo, was big enough to cater for 80 or so guests at the residence, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos.
No doubt made with the Pope’s environment encyclical Laudato Si in mind, the cake was the product of biodynamic agriculture, very similar to organic farming.
Biodynamic agriculture is an “holistic, ecological and ethical” approach to farming in which food is grown and harvested according to lunar cycles. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, but has been criticized for being “pseudoscience” and “quasi religious hocus-pocus”. The technique is nevertheless used in nearly 50 countries (Germany accounts for 45% of the global total).
The Holy Father was also given another cake today when he greeted the Italian “Azione Cattolica” movement at the Vatican. A large group of children and young people belonging to the non-political lay organization sang “Happy Birthday” to him during the audience.
The Pope commended the movement for their work with immigrants in Italy, their desire to live the Gospel to the full, and for their mission to involve family members, parishes and communities in an actively Christian life.
He said that by participating actively in the Mass and in Catechism, they become like missionaries, able to bring Jesus to others.
He also encouraged them to share their belongings with other young people and those who have none, and thanked Azione Cattolica's leaders for their commitment to imparting a Christian education, according to Vatican Radio.