Pope celebrates his birthday in the Vatican


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The Independent Online

The pope is having a very Bavarian birthday, celebrating his 85th milestone at the Vatican with his brother and bishops from his native land.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano issued birthday greetings on behalf of the College of Cardinals that elected the pope. They were said at the start of a Mass in the Paoline Chapel.

Cardinal Sodano welcomed the Bavarian bishops to the "family party" and, speaking in Latin, wished the pope "many happy years" ahead.

He has received one birthday gift ahead of time: a book of 20 essays by prominent Germans reflecting on the papacy, including German football great Franz Beckenbauer who recalled meeting the pope a few months before Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup.

Beckenbauer said the two differed over what kind of shape Germany's squad was in.