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The Journal Gazette

  • Pope Francis waves to faithful prior to the start of the Angelus noon prayer on th in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. The pontiff is celebrating his 81st birthday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Faithful hold placards reading "Best Wishes Her Holiness" on the occasion of Pope Francis' 81 birthday prior to the start of the Angelus noon prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Pope Francis waves to faithful prior to the start of the Angelus noon prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. The pontiff is celebrating his 81st birthday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Children hold balloons shaped in the number 81 on the occasion of Pope Francis' 81 birthday during a private audience with children assisted by "Dispensario Santa Marta", a Vatican pediatric clinic, in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Children hold up Baby Jesus statuettes during Pope Francis' Angelus noon prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. The pontiff is celebrating his 81st birthday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Faithful hold placards reading "Best Wishes Her Holiness" on the occasion of Pope Francis' 81 birthday prior to the start of the Angelus noon prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Pope Francis, framed by Christmas ornaments, delivers his message during the Angelus noon prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. The pontiff is celebrating his 81st birthday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Pope Francis blows a candle on the occasion of his 81st birthday during a private audience with children the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Sunday, December 17, 2017 8:50 am

Pope Francis blows out birthday candle on extra-long pizza

Associated Press

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

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.

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 the 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 was placed in the middle.