· Birthday wishes from the children cared for by the Dispensary of Santa Marta in the Vatican ·
At the end all of the children, cheering together, gathered round to blow out the 77 candles on the giant cake. On Saturday morning, 14 December — a few days before his actual birthday on 17 December — Pope Francis received what would perhaps
be his most treasured gift. They were nine parcels given to him by children receiving assistance from the Dispensary of Santa Marta in the Vatican. Each box had a white label identifying their contents: love, simplicity, joy, poverty, happiness, hope, generosity, gentleness, and humility. The children stacked the parcels in front of the Pope as if they were bricks, one on top of the other, forming a rectangular wall. Then each one slowly turned around a giant photograph of Pope Francis smiling appeared with the words “Happy Birthday” written below it. And then came the real surprise. While Pope Francis was distracted by the carefully crafted scene, a giant cake was pushed out on a cart by a dozen excited little ones, who were only a slightly taller than the cake itself. The Pope wanted them all near to him, even those who had remained at the foot of the stairs. He was like a grandfather with his grandchildren, even counting to three with his fingers, inviting everyone to blow out the candles together. Shortly before the gathering in the Paul vi Hall, the Pope visited the premises of the dispensary.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 18, 2019
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