PHOTOS: Pope Francis baptizes 16 babies in the Sistine Chapel

Pope Francis baptizes babies in the Sistine Chapel on January 7, 2024. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jan 7, 2024 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis baptized babies in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday and encouraged parents not to worry if their children cry or fuss during Mass.

On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Jan. 7, the pope baptized 16 babies and presided over Mass beneath Michelangelo’s frescoes.

In a brief off-the-cuff homily, the pope said that baptism is “the most beautiful gift” that parents can give to their children.

Pope Francis baptizes babies in the Sistine Chapel on January 7, 2024. Vatican Media

“We are here to baptize, to give the gift of faith to our babies. And they are the protagonists in this ceremony — they can speak, they can walk, they can shout … because this is their celebration. They will receive the most beautiful gift, the gift of faith, the gift of the Lord,” Pope Francis said.

“They are the protagonists because they will also give us today the testimony of how to receive faith: with innocence, with openness of heart,” he added.

Following the homily, the Sistine Chapel choir sang the Litany of the Saints in preparation for the baptisms.

Pope Francis used a golden shell-shaped cup to pour baptismal water over the head of each baby beneath the 48-foot high fresco of Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment.”

Pope Francis baptizes babies in the Sistine Chapel on January 7, 2024. Vatican Media

The pope told parents to let their babies cry during the Mass, joking that once one baby cries then “the concert will begin.”

Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State served as the main celebrant of the Mass with Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, concelebrating.

Krajewski also helped to clothe each child in a white garment after their baptism to symbolize that the child has “put on Christ” and risen with the Lord.

Pope Francis baptizes babies in the Sistine Chapel on January 7, 2024. Vatican Media

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes baptism as the “basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit … and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.”

St. John Paul II began the papal tradition of baptizing children in the Sistine Chapel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Jan. 11, 1981.

The ceremony initially took place in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace but was moved to the Sistine Chapel in 1983.

The event was reserved at first for babies of Swiss Guards but later expanded to include the children of Vatican employees.

To qualify, children have to be under one year of age and their parents must be married in the Church. Each child is accompanied in the Sistine Chapel by his or her parents, siblings, godfather, and godmother.

The family groups attend a rehearsal before the ceremony. During the event, the Vatican provides baby-changing tables in a nearby room in the Apostolic Palace.

In his homily, Pope Francis encouraged parents not to worry if their children cry or fuss during Mass. Vatican Media

Pope Francis reminded the godparents present of their responsibility to help the newly baptized babies to grow in faith.

“I ask you to accompany them as they grow because this is a great way to help so that faith grows in them,” he said. “Thank you so much for your witness, for bringing them here to receive the faith.”

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis encouraged the parents to have their children celebrate the date of their baptism each year like a birthday.

“Let them know the date of the baptism. It is the date of birth. The date of birth is like a birthday. At baptism, I became a Christian. Teach this to children to celebrate it every year,” he said.

Relaterte artikler

Fastetiden

Søndagsfrø | Nåtid

29.januar på EWTN Norge

spot_img

Tidebønner på St Rita Radio

Søndagsfrø med p. Rafal Ochojski MSF