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VATICAN CITY — Thousands of well-wishers sang "Happy Birthday" and danced a mass tango on Wednesday to celebrate the 78th birthday of the first Latin American pope. Pope Francis, from Argentina, shares a birthplace with the passionate dance. The pontiff heard versions of "Happy Birthday" in Spanish, Italian and other languages as he was driven through St. Peter's Square to start his weekly general audience.

He was handed a cake and blew out the candles before accepting a birthday drawing from an Italian boy and drinking a traditional Argentinian cup of mate. At the rear edge of the square, more than 2,000 people who came to Rome from all over Italy for the birthday danced in "A tango for Pope Francis" event as music blared. "We are here for the pope's birthday. We are dancing the tango as our present to him," said an Italian woman who gave her name as Linda.


- Reuters