ROME – Marking the Catholic Feast of the Baptism of the Lord as he always does by celebrating Mass in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Francis baptized sixteen infants Sunday, telling their parents that the children are examples of how to receive faith.
Speaking to those present, Pope Francis after baptizing 16 infants said their families and friends had gathered “to baptize, to give the gift of faith to our children.”
“They are the protagonists in this ceremony – they can speak, go around, cry, they command, because it’s their celebration and they will receive the most beautiful gift, the gift of faith, the gift of the Lord,” he said, telling parents as he always does not to worry if the children cry.
He told mothers to feel free to breastfeed if their children are hungry, and he told parents not to worry about taking off the formal clothing the children were dressed in if the infants became too hot.
“They are the protagonists because today they also give us the witness of how to receive the faith, with innocence and openness of heart,” he said.
Pope Francis told the parents and godparents of the infants that he hoped their lives “will be of help to these children, of help for their growth, to accompany them in growth, because this is a way to help so that faith also grows in them.”
“Thanks so much for your witness in bringing them here to receive faith,” he said, and after the parents went to light the baptism candle, told them to “never let the light of Christ go out in our hearts.”
Baptizing infants, many of whose parents are Vatican employees, is an annual tradition for the pope on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which marks the official end of the Christmas season.
Pope Francis is also scheduled to deliver his regular noontime Angelus address on Sunday, during which he has consistently prayed for peace in warring nations, including Ukraine, Israel and Palestine.