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Children sing Happy Birthday to the Pope as enthusiasm peaks in Valletta

Thousands of widely enthusiastic children sang Happy Birthday to the Pope this evening as they turned Palace Square in Valletta into a carpet of yellow and white.

The children cheered as His Holiness appeared on the Palace balcony accompanied by President Abela, the Prime Minister and the bishops. They sang Happy Birthday in English, Italian and his native German.

The Pope, who turned 83 yesterday, smiled and waved with both hands as the children sang Viva il-Papa, with the President clapping in tune.

The Pope told the children "Thank you for your presence and enthusiasm." He gave them a blessing and then wished them a Happy Sunday.

The children replied by singing Oh Happy Days! as they continued to wave.

The Pope appeared to be enjoying the moment and waved to children with disabilities below the balcony.

The Pope will be unveiling a marble plaque at the entrance of the Presidential Palace before leaving for Rabat.

The plaque features the Maltese and Vatican coat of arms and reads: B'tifkira taz-zjara f'dan il-palazz mill-Q.T. Il-Papa Benedittu XVI lill-President ta' Malta l-E.T. George Abela fl-gheluq il-1950 sena min nawfragu ta' San Pawl. 17 ta' April 2010.

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