Prayer "will give them strength throughout their lives," even in "bad times," said the 86-year-old Pope, as he baptized 13 in the Sistine Chapel.
Pope Francis encouraged parents and godparents to teach children to pray as he celebrated the baptisms of 13 infants on January 8, 2023, the feast of Christ’s baptism, in the Sistine Chapel. Pope John Paul II started the tradition of baptizing infants on this feast day 40 years ago, in 1983.
Prayer will give the children strength, Pope Francis assured during the Mass.
Improvising a homily of just a few words, standing behind the lectern, the Pontiff advised parents – traditionally Vatican employees – to teach their children the date of their baptism so that each year they will celebrate this anniversary and “thank God for the grace of being Christians.”
These children “are beginning a journey,” Pope Francis said, addressing the godparents: “It is up to you […] to teach them to go forward on this journey.” And he wished that the children “learn to pray as children,” “at least with their hands and gestures.”
Prayer “will give them strength throughout their lives,” even in “bad times,” said the 86-year-old Pope. He invited families to pray especially to the Virgin Mary, who is mother. “It is said that when someone is angry with the Lord or has wandered away, the Virgin is always near to show him the way,” he added.
In conclusion, the Bishop of Rome enjoined the small assembly to let the children “cry” and “cry out” during the celebration and to breastfeed if necessary “in complete freedom,” so “that everyone feels comfortable.”
Above all, he insisted, “let this celebration be the feast of the beginning of a beautiful Christian journey, where you will help your children to go forward.”
Afterwards, the Pope baptized each of the children.
The prefect of the dicastery for the Service of Charity, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, then celebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist at the altar; since the Pope’s knee makes it difficult for him to stand, it has been practice for almost a year now to have another cardinal or bishop lead the Liturgy of the Eucharist.