Pope Francis Serenaded by Children on His Birthday; Appeals to the Release of Kidnapped Nuns

By Mei Manuel, December 18, 2017 05:12 AM

Pope Francis(Facebook)

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people - mostly children- sang for Pope Francis, who was celebrating his 81st birthday. The pope also appealed for the release of Catholic nuns who were kidnapped last month in Nigeria.

The crowd sang the Happy Birthday song in Italian for the pontiff as he appeared at the window of the Apostolic Palace for his weekly message and blessing. As part of the tradition in Rome, the children faced the pope's window and held up small statues of the baby Jesus to be blessed by the Pope. These statues would then be placed in home nativity scenes that many Italians still practice today.

In his address, the Pope said: "This is the real Christmas. If we remove Jesus, what is left? An empty feast."

He also called for the release of the six Roman Catholic nuns who were kidnapped from a convent in Iguoriakhi, Nigeria last month. The pontiff hopes that these nuns, alongside the other victims of kidnappings, could be released and be home for Christmas.

The pope was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires and was elected as the pope in 2013 after Pope Benedict XVI resigned from office.

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