VATICAN CITY — The apostolic palace’s frescoed Clementine Hall became the stage for a mini-Bavarian festival today to celebrate Pope Benedict’s 85th birthday.
A small band played “oompah” music and ten children dressed in traditional outfits swirled, stomped and clapped as they performed the Schuhplattler before the pope. They were part of a large delegation of Bavarian bishops and 150 government representatives from the region who came to greet the pope and celebrate his birthday.
The pope’s brother, 88-year-old Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, also attended the festivities as well as representatives from the Lutheran church and the Jewish community in Bavaria.
The children presented the pope with white flowers and a Maypole covered with colorful ribbons. They also recited a German birthday poem.
The government delegation presented the pope with gifts of a wooden crucifix sculpted by a well-known 18th-century Bavarian woodcarver and a large Easter basket filled with traditional cakes, dark bread, ham and painted eggs.
Take a look at our video coverage of the pope’s milestone birthday:
And here’s the Vatican’s coverage from the morning Mass: