Pope to mark 80th birthday but jokes with crowd first

- Pope Francis will mark his 80th birthday on Saturday with a morning Mass with his cardinals and an otherwise "normal" day of back-to-back meetings and audiences.

First, Wednesday, he joked with a crowd singing “Happy Birthday” that early birthday greetings may bring him bad luck.

The pope has said he doesn't want any special celebrations on the day itself and will be carrying out his duties as normal with Mass and meetings.

Francis isn't one to make a big deal about birthdays, but his decision to celebrate a special Mass in the Paoline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace suggests that even he recognizes 80 is a significant milestone. The chapel is where Francis spent his first minutes in prayer after being elected in 2013.

Francis then has a series of audiences, including with the president of Malta and the head of the Vatican's office for bishops, among others.

The birthday comes at a tumultuous time for Francis, as he presses economic reforms in the Vatican and endures criticism from conservatives over his pastoral approach.

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