Holy Father,

Today it is even sweeter for me to address you, not only in the silence of prayer, as I often do, but through this shared diary. It is sweet for me to start this simple writing with simple words that, beyond any label, express the precise definition of what you are for all of us: “Saint”, because perfect example of he who «walks in the presence of God, who opens with simplicity to the grace of God» (just like says your illuminating definition of Holiness). ‘Father’, because the supreme father of the Christian Church, but also because metaphorical father of all of us, a shining bridge between earthly existence and the transcendent, the mortal manifestation of our immortal Father.

With the same joy, with the same affection I would use to address my beloved father (who has preceded us, reaching the Heavenly Father), for this extraordinary anniversary in round numbers, let me join the festive messages you will be receiving from all over the world. With filial devotion, Holy Father, let me offer you my best wishes. I dedicate to you the joy and gratitude, mine and of my family, for the gift of Providence that you embody.

Due to the great honor I have had to meet you in person and to sing in your presence, I have been asked several times to give a testimony on your person. What I have expressed, with force, (for what little that matters), on every occasion, I will reiterate here, and that is that I feel for you, Holy Father, a sincere, deep devotion. And I am thankful – as I think any believer is, and not only – for what you express and portray: a providential source of hope for all men of contemporaneity.

From your example of soul devoted to Goodness, I try to get inspired every day; even when it comes to taking difficult or unpopular decisions, You, Holy Father, you are a man who gives himself unreservedly, who looks for a dialogue, who always holds out his hand. And I, a staggering apprentice, try instead, always and with all my strength not to lose the reference of your example, of your path.

Dear Pope Francesco, Holy Father, you are a giant, you have the greatness of the good and the goodness of the great, and yet you know how to be small, and give us the friendliness of a family member. We are most grateful to you and we try to follow the precious lesson that emanates your genuine humility, your singular humanity, the disarming strength of your Faith, and that daily life experience that enlightens your words, that softens the timbre of your voice, giving you, a good and intelligent man, an irresistible sympathy, a charisma that becomes very soon sincere and deep affection.

Here is why your birthday is a moment of universal joy. And it is a joy and a guarantee to know that you are in perfect shape. This is a special opportunity to renew our prayers, asking our God to preserve for many years in good health our beloved Pontiff, a real blessing fallen upon the world.

It is a particular pleasure for me to extend to His Holiness every good wish for His eightieth birthday.

Andrea Bocelli           

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