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Pope marks 81st birthday with extra-long pizza

 / Updated  / Source: Associated Press
Image: Pope Francis blows out a candle on a pizza on Dec. 17, 2017 during an audience with children assisted by "Dispensario Santa Marta", a Vatican pediatric clinic at the Vatican. Pope Francis is celebrating his 81st birthday.
Pope Francis blows out a candle on a pizza on Dec. 17, 2017 during an audience with children assisted by "Dispensario Santa Marta," a Vatican pediatric clinic.AFP - Getty Images/ Ossevatore Romano

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has blown out his birthday candle on an extra-long pizza at the Vatican to the delight of children.

Image: Pope Francis blows out a candle on a pizza on Dec. 17, 2017 during an audience with children assisted by "Dispensario Santa Marta", a Vatican pediatric clinic at the Vatican. Pope Francis is celebrating his 81st birthday.
Pope Francis blows out a candle on a pizza on Dec. 17, 2017 during an audience with children assisted by "Dispensario Santa Marta," a Vatican pediatric clinic.AFP - Getty Images/ Ossevatore Romano

Francis, who turned 81 on Sunday, then told the children, who use a Vatican health service, to "eat all four meters (13 feet)," saying it will make them grow.

Image: This handout released by Roman pastry Hedera Sweetness and Co. shows a birthday cake offered to Pope Francis for his 81st birthday, on Dec. 17, 2017 in Rome. The cake is decorated with a drawing of Italian street artist Mauro Pallotta a.k.a Maupal.
This handout released by Roman pastry Hedera Sweetness and Co. shows a birthday cake offered to Pope Francis for his 81st birthday, on Dec. 17, 2017 in Rome. The cake is decorated with a drawing by Italian street artist Mauro Pallotta a.k.a Maupal.AFP - Getty Images/Hedera-Maupal

Later, thousands of children in St. Peter's Square shouted birthday wishes to Francis. He replied from his window overlooking the square: "Thanks a lot, thanks a lot." His birthday coincided with his weekly Sunday appearance to faithful.

Pizza for parties in Italy is often baked in long form, instead of round pies, which are meant instead for individual portions. At the Vatican, rectangular-shaped pieces of pizza were stretched end-to-end on a table and a tall, white candle stuck out in the middle.

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