Pope Francis baptizes babies in the Sistine Chapel for the first time since COVID-19 declared a pandemic


Pope Francis baptized babies in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday for the first time since the global coronavirus epidemic.

The Pope baptized 16 babies – seven boys and nine girls – on January 9, the feast of the Lord’s baptism, a year after being forced to cancel the annual event due to COVID-19.

In a short improvised homily under Michelangelo’s performance of the Last Judgment, the Pope said that during baptism children were given their Christian identity.

“And you, parents and godparents, have to keep that identity,” he said. noted. “It is your task throughout your life: to keep the Christian identity of your children. It is a daily commitment: to make them grow with the light they will receive today.

On January 12, 2020, Pope Francis baptized 32 infants – 17 boys and 15 girls. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11 of the same year.

In 2021, infants eligible for baptism in the Sistine Chapel received the sacrament in their host parishes rather.

The Pope concelebrated the broadcast live Mass on Sunday with Papal Chaplain Cardinal Konrad Krajewski and Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

In 2020, the Pope celebrated the liturgy “Ad orientem”, or facing east, at the original Sistine Chapel altar directly below the “Last Judgment”. But this year, he offered Mass “versus populum”, or in front of the congregation, on an altar a few steps from the elder.

Throughout Mass, the singing of the Sistine Chapel choir rivaled the cries of babies.

A sin The previous years, the pope told parents not to worry if their babies made noise during the ceremony.

He said: “This ceremony is a bit long, so the kids feel strange here in an environment they don’t know. Please, they are the protagonists: make sure they are not too hot, that they feel comfortable … “

“And if they are hungry, feed them quietly here before the Lord, no problem. And if they shout, they shout, because they have a community spirit, let’s say a “band spirit”, a group spirit, and we just have to start – because everyone is a musician – and immediately the orchestra comes! “

“Let them cry softly, let them feel free. But don’t let them get too hot, and if they’re hungry, don’t let them be hungry.

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan by Saint John the Baptist.

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

Saint John Paul II began the papal tradition of baptizing infants in the Sixtine Chapel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 11, 1981.

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

The event was initially reserved for babies of the Swiss Guards, but later extended to the children of Vatican employees.

To be eligible, children must 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 parents, his brothers and sisters, his godfather and his godmother.

Family groups attend a rehearsal before the ceremony. During the event, the Vatican provides changing tables in a room next to the Apostolic Palace.


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