On December 17, Pope Francis celebrated his 77th birthday, and congratulations arrived in the Vatican from all over the world. However, also in his city of birth, Buenos Aires, citizens celebrated the birthday of their former archbishop: the parishioners of the diaconate of Boca-Barrajas, one of the most popular and troubled areas of the city, and spent the day in Plaza Constitucion where a “missionary tent” had been erected to welcome the “invisible” inhabitants of the capital. The area hosts a large railway station and the principal bus terminal, where the “street people” of the city gather – migrants, the unemployed, the homeless, prostitutes – and where every year the then Archbishop Bergoglio used to celebrate Mass for the victims of human trafficking.
In Italy, the Constitutional Court sent a telegram to the Pope, through the secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, congratulating him for his “profound and intense pastoral work in the defence of the dignity of the human person and for peace in the world”. The Episcopal Conference sent him a message referring to his “tireless apostolic ministry which offers words of life and mercy, opening up paths and spreading hope”. Today, or later, on Wednesday morning, Pope Francis will receive a special gift: a visit from a delegation from the football team San Lorenzo de Buenos Aires, which the Pope supports, and who will bring with them the Cup of the “Inicial” Championship, which they won last Sunday. In the Roman parish of San Lorenzo in Piscibus, the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre – very close to the Vatican – various groups of young people will offer twenty-four hours of Eucharistic adoration in homage to Pope Francis, in shifts throughout the day and the night, joined by the Catholic Knights Templar.
The birthday celebrations will not end on December 17. On Friday, 20 December, the Roman Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs will offer a concert in honor of the Pope, with the participation of numerous Italian and foreign artists who, as well as performing musical pieces, will also read significant passages from the Pope’s work. The repertory will include the “Misa Criolla”, by the Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez, one of the Pope’s favorite works, which will be performed by the Basilica’s Schola Cantorum choir using popular Argentine instruments, and with the participation of the Chilean soprano Macarena Valenzuela.
All those who wish to congratulate the Pope by Internet are invited to do so at: https://www.facebook.com/news.va.en