Pope will not baptise infants on feast day this year
The choral cries of newborn babies will not fill the Sistine Chapel in 2021 because the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Pope Francis to cancel his annual celebration of infant baptisms on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
The Vatican press office announced Jan. 5 that the pope would not do the baptisms Jan. 10, but that the babies – most of whom are the children of Vatican employees – would be baptised in their home parishes instead.
Presiding over the annual event with as many as three dozen infants and their little siblings present, Pope Francis usually kept his homily very short. He almost always reassured the parents that it was normal for the little ones to fuss and said they should not hesitate to feed or change the babies to make them more comfortable.
“It is a beautiful homily when a baby cries in church. It is a beautiful homily,” the pope said at the 2020 ceremony where he baptised 32 little ones. “Make sure that they are all right and let’s move forward.”
St John Paul II made the feast-day baptisms an annual event beginning in 1981 when he baptised nine babies in the Pauline Chapel, a smaller, more private chapel in the Apostolic Palace. In 1983, with 20 infants waiting for the sacrament, the liturgy was transferred to the Sistine Chapel.
When major restoration work was underway on Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the feast-day Mass and baptisms were celebrated mainly in the Hall of Blessings above the atrium of St Peter’s Basilica. The celebration returned to the Sistine Chapel in January 1995.
Please support The Southern Cross
Your support means we can keep Catholic news alive so that many others will have free access to the high-quality, trustworthy news they deserve. We seek your support not simply to survive, but to grow in our mandate to share the Good News and keep you informed about your Church and Catholic faith.
Every contribution, however big or small, makes a difference. Support us today – it only takes a minute. Thank you.
- Vatican: Sacred Scripture Needs to be Respected and Valued - January 20, 2021
- Pope: Each one of us is called to be an Artisan of Peace - January 19, 2021
- What to Say in Confession - January 18, 2021