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Pope Francis thanked parents who decide to baptize their children for their witness, as he celebrated the baptism of 16 infants on January 8, 2024, the feast of Christ’s baptism, in the Sistine Chapel. He also encouraged all Christians to remember their baptism, one of his favorite exhortations.
As has been tradition on this feast since 1981, the Successor of Peter presided over the Eucharist in the Sistine Chapel, during which he conferred the sacrament of baptism.
This year, 16 infants received the sacrament from Pope Francis. The infants are children of Vatican employees, all under the age of one, in keeping with the tradition instituted by Saint John Paul II.
During a brief homily, the Pontiff explained that these children, with their baptism, are receiving “the most beautiful of gifts, the gift of faith, the gift of the Lord.” And, at the same time, the young baptized also give “witness to the way in which faith is received: with innocence, with openness of heart.”
As he often has during this ceremony, the Holy Father encouraged the parents not to worry if the babies make noise, even if the echo beneath Michelangelo’s frescoes can make one feel conspicuous. This Mass has several times been an occasion for the Pope to speak in favor of breastfeeding, encouraging the moms to feel comfortable feeding their babies at the Mass.
“If they cry – for the moment they are silent, but all it takes is for one of them to give the note for the concert to begin – let them cry.”
The Pontiff urged the parents and godparents to make their lives “a help to these children.” He encouraged them to accompany them in their growth “so that faith may grow within them.”
Remembering one’s baptism
At the end of the mass, the Pope invited the parents and godparents to remember the date of their infant’s baptism, reminding them that it is a day of grace, a “birthday” as the day of their birth as Christians.
He repeated this same appeal an hour later from the window of the Apostolic Palace after the Angelus prayer, asking the Christians gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray for the newly-baptized.