Pope Will Celebrate Birthday With 7,000 Youths

An Ordinary Working Day, But With a Cake

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).-John Paul II turns 82 on Saturday. He will celebrate his birthday in the way he most enjoys: working and meeting with thousands of young people.

At the end of his dinner tomorrow, there will be a cake for dessert, John Paul´s favorite course, prepared by Sister Germana, one of the Polish nuns looking after after him.

The Pope´s birthday is not a holiday in the Vatican; the activities of its 4,000 officials and employees will continue as usual. However, when the “Angelus” strikes at midday, there will be a recitation of the Marian hymn for the Pontiff.

Press sources disclosed that on Saturday morning the Pope will spend time with Mel Lastman, the Mayor of Toronto, the city hosting the World Youth Day at the end of July. Although a Jew, Lastman is an enthusiastic promoter of the youth event, which will gather more than 500,000 young people in Toronto.

The real birthday celebration will come later, when John Paul II meets with 7,000 young people from Rome, to mark the third centenary of the presence of the Christian Brothers´ Schools in Italy. This religious Congregation was founded by Norman St. John Baptist of La Salle (1651-1719).

Fr. Alvaro Rodriguez, the Congregation´s Superior, and brother of a former President of Costa Rica, will congratulate the Pope, in effect, on behalf of one billion Catholics.

Accompanied by the Neapolitan orchestra of the Christian Brothers´ Schools, the 7,000 “guests” will sing with one voice: “Happy Birthday, Holy Father!”

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