Pope Francis who turns 80 on Saturday, December 17th, has urged people not to send him early birthday wishes because, in his native Argentina, doing so brings bad luck.
Speaking at his general audience, the last public appearance before the birthday, on Wednesday, the Pontiff joked:
“Thank you very much for your greetings for my upcoming birthday. But I’ll tell you something that will make you laugh. In my country, expressing greetings ahead of time brings bad luck and those who do it are jinxers.”
To mark the Pope’s birthday, the Vatican has opened seven email accounts that can receive birthday messages in Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, German and Polish.
For those who want to send Pope Francis a note, they can write to him at the following email addresses;
The English-language email is: [email protected], others are;
The Vatican is also promoting the Pope’s birthday on social media, encouraging users to take to their accounts with the hashtag: #Pontifex80.
Pope Francis, the first from Latin America, who was elected in 2013, will mark his birthday “just as normal” and will be working on that day.
He will receive the President of Malta in audience and will later meet with the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Oullet, Bishop Vitus Hounder of Chur, Sweden and the Nomadelfia Community of Italy, as well as other guests and dignitaries.
He will also celebrate Mass in the Pauline Chapel in the Vatican, along with those Cardinals who are living and working in Rome, while the rest of the day’s business will proceed as usual.
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, as experienced in previous years.