Europe

Pope marks 80th birthday Saturday with Mass and meetings

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, April 6, 2016 file photo Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he arrives on his pope-mobile for his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, April 6, 2016 file photo Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he arrives on his pope-mobile for his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis touches a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe as he celebrates a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis touches a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe as he celebrates a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Thursday, June 30, 2016 file photo Pope Francis is greeted by nuns in St. Peter's Square on the occasion of a jubilee audience, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, June 30, 2016 file photo Pope Francis is greeted by nuns in St. Peter's Square on the occasion of a jubilee audience, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)  (The Associated Press)

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

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.