VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2002 ( The Vatican went on holiday as John Paul II celebrated his name day by meeting with a group of Polish pilgrims and inviting 11 senior cardinals to a special celebration.

In observing the liturgical memorial of St. Charles Borromeo today, Pope Karol (Charles, in Polish) telephoned his namesake, Carlo Ciampi, the president of Italy, to wish him a happy feast day. Both leaders were born in 1920.

As customary on this day, the Holy Father received 300 Polish pilgrims in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, who had come to Rome to congratulate him and to assure him of their prayers.

"Every day I feel" the benefits of the prayers, a smiling Pope told them.

John Paul II explained that a name day recalls the day of baptism, when one receives the name of a patron.

"With you, I thank God for the gift of faith that I received at baptism," the Pope said to his compatriots.

Then, visibly moved, the Holy Father thanked his late parents, Karol Wojtyla, a military man in the Austro-Hungarian army, and his mother, Emilia Kaczorowsky, who transmitted to him the gift of faith. The Pontiff said he hoped that all children might enjoy this same experience.

On Sunday, at his Angelus address, the Holy Father thanked everyone publicly for the congratulatory messages and prayers he received for his name day.

This morning, John Paul II took part in a simple celebratory meeting with 11 cardinals who have passed their 80th birthday and worked in the Roman Curia.

The cardinals were:

-- Opilio Rossi, 92, former president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses;

-- Antonio Innocenti, 87, and José Sanchez, 82, former prefects of the Congregation for the Clergy;

-- Paul Augustin Mayer, 91, and Antonio Javierre Ortas, 81, former prefects of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments;

-- Alfons M. Stickler, 92, and Luigi Poggi, 84, both former archivists and librarians of the Holy Roman Church;

-- Angelo Felici, 83, former prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes;

-- Giovanni Canestri, 84, former archbishop of Genoa;

-- Fiorenzo Angelini, 86, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers; and

-- Giovanni Cheli, 84, former president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

On Tuesday, John Paul II will preside over a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the repose of the souls of cardinals and bishops who died during the past year.