Tango treat for birthday boy Pope Francis

2014-12-17 16:24
(Gregorio Borgia, AP)

(Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rome - Hundreds of couples performed a tango on St Peter's square on Tuesday in a birthday treat for Pope Francis, who hails from Argentina, the birthplace of the celebrated sultry dance.

With the recent gloomy weather giving way to sparkling sunshine and an azure sky, an even higher authority than the pontiff appeared to have given his blessing to the celebrations to mark the 78th birthday of Francis, formerly Jose Bergaglio.

The dancers, from all over Italy and further afield, were among 13 000 people at St Peter's for the pope's weekly public audience.

Non-dancing well-wishers came bearing gifts including a birthday cake and mate, a traditional Argentinian drink, before listening to the leader of the world's Catholics issue a solemn condemnation of recent terrorist atrocities in Pakistan, Yemen and Australia.

Around midday, the dancing started. "Happy Birthday, Pope Francis! Let's widen out this circle," shouted Cristina Carmorani, a dance teacher from Conventello, near Ravenna in northeastern Italy.

It was Carmorani who came up with the idea for the birthday tango and launched an appeal for couples to come and do it though her "Tango for Francis" Facebook initiative.

More than 3 200 people had signed up to take part, she had said, with most of the volunteers elderly couples.

'I Love it'

The pope revealed his passion for the beguiling tunes to which the dance is performed in an interview several years before he became pontiff.

"I love it. It is stronger than me," he said. His younger sister has also been quoted as saying that the pontiff, a keen sportsman in his youth, was also a very accomplished dancer.

Last year, on the first anniversary of his election as pope, Radio Vatican marked the occasion by playing several of his favourite tango tunes, including the famous "Por una Cabeza" by Carlos Gardel.

The papal birthday was celebrated in a very different style by the "Papaboys", an association of young Catholics who had organised a prayer marathon at the San Lorenzo hostel for pilgrims visiting Rome.

After a midnight mass, the devout group prayed continuously until it was time for the papal audience and subsequently returned to continue in the same vein through an entire 24-hour cycle.

Spanish poultry farmers sent 800kg of chicken to be distributed by the Vatican's charity services via soup kitchens for the homeless around the Catholic headquarters.

The Vatican press office, which stressed that the tango was not an officially sanctioned event, said there would be a surprise for the poor later in the day, without releasing any further details.

Read more on:    pope francis  |  italy

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.