In yet another highly significant expression of his love for the poor and the excluded of this world, Pope Francis yesterday baptized the son of Sergio Sanchez, the leader of the “waste-pickers” cooperative in Buenos Aires who was present at his inauguration as Bishop of Rome. He did so in a private ceremony at Santa Marta, the Vatican guest house where he resides. The simple and profoundly moving ceremony took place at five o’clock Saturday evening, Oct. 31, in the chapel of Santa Marta. The child was born in Buenos Aires on March 20 and there are no prizes for guessing his name: Francisco! In a brief two-minute homily before the baptism, Francis, wearing an ivory colored cope and speaking in a gentle voice, recalled how before Jesus returned to the Father in heaven, he instructed his apostles to go into the whole world and make disciples of all people, and baptize them. Ever since then, he said, the faith has been passed down from generation to generation in “an unbroken chain” to this very day, and little Francisco is the newest “link in that chain.” And when it comes to his turn to be a father he too will bring his child to be baptized, the pope added. He told the parents that their decision to bring the child to be baptized “is an option for life, it’s an option for hope, knowing that the Lord waits for us, and never fails us!” Mr. Sanchez wore his waste-pickers overalls for the baptism as he had done at Francis’ inauguration ceremony, and he held the child as the pope baptized him, while his wife Jacqueline, full of emotion, and the five other guests looked on.
And there’s this beautiful detail:
Following the baptismal book, Francis had earlier anointed the child on the forehead and on the chest with the oil of chrism that he had blessed on Holy Thursday, but then he added to that tradition by anointing the child’s hands too. He explained this last anointing: “I like to do this because a person not only shows his dignity with his forehead when he looks at you, the person also expresses that dignity with his hands through his work.”