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Pope Francis Had A Pizza Party For His 81st Birthday

A 13-foot pizza, to be exact!

What does the Pope do on his birthday? He has a pizza party, of course!

Although he was born in Argentina, Pope Francis, who turned 81 on Dec. 17, is the child of Italian immigrants and of course, he lives in the Vatican in Rome. His apparent fondness for Italian food was evident at his birthday celebration, which featured an enormous pizza as the main course.

The celebration began as throngs of well-wishers sang “Happy Birthday” to the pontiff in Saint Peter’s Square. Next, hundreds of children — patients of the pediatric hospital inside the Vatican — surprised the Pope with an oversized puzzle and a three-tiered cake, complete with balloons.

But the pièce de résistance was lunch: a 13-foot pizza topped with a single candle.

Pope Francis invited several of the children present to help him blow out the candle and then encouraged the children to eat up, explaining that the pizza would make them grow.

The Pope’s pizza created quite a social media buzz, with numerous tweets in support of his birthday meal choice.

The celebration seemed to inspire everything from educational pursuits …

… to potential new friendships…

… to religious conversions …

… to people deciding they wanted pizza parties of their own.

Following presents, pizza and cake, Pope Francis spoke. He offered advice to the parents in attendance.

“Take care of the children’s happiness,” he recommended. “Don’t make them sad. When children see there are problems at home, that their parents argue, they suffer. Don’t make them sad. They must always grow up with joy.”

Before he left the celebration, the Pope took a group photo with the kids in attendance.

A birthday party made up of family, thoughtful gifts, cake and a ginormous pizza? It might sound a little on the cheesy side, but it seems that this is the sort of cheesiness a whole lot of people can get behind.

[H/t: Today]