The celebration of Pope Benedict’s 85th birthday on April 16, makes him the oldest pope for over 100 years; Pope Leo XIII died in 1903 aged 93.
The Holy Father told his aides that he wanted “no major celebrations”, the Pope’s personal secretary Georg Gaenswein told the Italian weekly Gente.
Benedict was however later joined in the Vatican’s frescoed Clementine Hall by about 150 Bavarians, including bishops, political leaders and representatives of the region’s Protestant and Jewish communities.
He was serenaded by 10 children dressed in traditional Bavarian garb who danced for him and recited a poem, and by Bavarian musicians who performed a song he and his siblings sang as children while their father accompanied them on a zither.
Benedict fueled speculation he might be unwell or even be thinking of retiring, when in his birthday homily he said “I am facing the final leg of the path of my life and I don’t know what’s ahead. … I know that God’s light is there…”
However Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said the pope, who plans to visit Lebanon in September, was well though tired like other men his age.
“I ask you to pray for me, that the Lord may give me the strength to fulfill the mission that he has given me,” the pope told pilgrims on Sunday.
“Support me always with your prayers so that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I may continue my service to Christ and the Church,” he told another group.
News category: World.