Pope Francis Celebrates 77th Birthday With Homeless People

Four homeless people - one of them with his dog - joined Pope Francis in celebration of his 77th birthday at the Vatican.

Among those present at Tuesday's Mass were Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals. Almoner Monsignor Konrad Krajewski brought with him the four homeless men, who live on the streets just outside the Holy See's walls.

The Pope hosted the breakfast at St Martha's Residence, the Vatican hotel where he has stayed since his election; the Vatican said in a statement that the occasion was "particularly friendly".

During the mass, the Pope reflected on God's enduring presence in our lives throughout history. He said: "God wished to live out his life alongside us" and "took his surname from each of us."

In honour of the Pope's 77th birthday, the Vatican has released an interactive card, which can be viewed on the Vatican website, containing over 30 photos of the Pope, accompanied by quotes from various homilies he has given over the past nine months.

The members of Buenos Aires football team San Lorenzo, which is Pope Francis' favourite team since he was a boy, are to meet the Pope later today, to mark this occasion.

Named person of the year by Time magazine, the pontiff is making history as one of the more informal and down-to-earth popes in recent times, following on from his humble life in Argentina.

Since becoming pope, Francis has adopted gestures of openness, which startled the Catholic world, such as his acceptance of gay people.

The Time magazine managing editor Nacy Gibbs said of Pope Francis: "In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very centre of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalisation, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.

"Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly - young and old, faithful and cynical"

Pope Francis was also named person of the year by gay magazine The Advocate, for being the most influential person of 2013 in relation to the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.