On 83rd Birthday, Pope Prays for Church's Sanctity

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI turned 83 today, spending his birthday with normal activities punctuated by numerous congratulatory messages from around the world.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano sent the Pope a message expressing his “deep esteem for your elevated magisterium.”

In the Vatican, the Holy Father doesn’t celebrate his birthday, but rather his name day, the feast of St. Joseph.

He received in audience the U.S.-based Papal Foundation, a charity group that supports papal initiatives. 

“I ask you to pray for the needs of the universal Church and to implore a renewed outpouring of the Spirit’s gifts of holiness, unity and missionary zeal upon the whole People of God,” he told them today.

At the end of the audience, the foundation members gave the Pope a birthday cake and sang him “Happy Birthday.”

Meanwhile in Virginia, the Cardinal Newman Society announced it had collected one million prayers prayed for the Pope.

The society started an Easter Prayer Campaign for the Pontiff in response to a Palm Sunday call by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York for Catholics to pray for the Holy Father.

The more than one million prayers include 247,352 rosaries, 131,441 Divine Mercy chaplets, and 23,554 Masses offered by priests. Other prayers pledged for the Holy Father include holy hours, fasting, personal Mass intentions and novenas.

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