POPE PAUL will celebrate his 80th birthday on September 26 — the third time a Pope has achieved this age since the last war.
Since then the Church has solemnly celebrated the birthdays of Pius XII on March 2, 1956, and John XXIII on November 25, 1961.
Both Popes received the homage of dozens of special diplomatic missions, sent from various nations. Special solemn Masses were celebrated in the presence of Church and civil dignities in St Peter's Basilica for both Popes. The future Pope Paul VI celebrated the solemn Mass for John XXIII's birthday, with his predecessor presiding.
For Pope Paul's birthday, special ceremonies are also planned. Eighty artists will present 80 works of art in his honour, according to Vatican sources.
Festivities will start on the eve of the birthday with a televised Mass from St Peter's at which famous boys' choirs from various European nations will sing.
The 200 participants in the world Synod of Bishops, opening 'on September 30, are expected to offer their own birthday present to the Pope who established the Synod 10 years ago. The solemn unveiling of a monumental bas-relief in bronze of Christ's Resurrection will highlight the birthday celebrations. The work, costing more than £100,000 is being assembled in the modern papal hail by the Italian artist Pericle Fazzini, Besides tributes from the great, the Vatican will certainly be snowed under with cards and birthday presents from thousands of ordinary Catholics throughout the world.