January 10, 2000
volume 11, no. 6
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


Private Celebration Occasionally Interrupted by Babies' Cries

    VATICAN CITY, JAN 9 (ZENIT).- Sunday morning, John Paul II baptized 18 infants from 8 countries in the recently-restored Sistine Chapel.

    It was a very different celebration from those that have been taking place since the beginning of the Jubilee. It was an extremely private ceremony, during which parents presented their children to the Pope to receive the first sacrament through which they become children of God.

    "Dear mothers and fathers, I welcome you, as well as the godfathers and godmothers, and, on behalf of the great family of the Church, I welcome with joy these very dear children whom you have brought to the Sistine Chapel to receive the sacrament of Baptism," the Holy Father said, interrupted by the cries of some of the infants.

    The 18 fortunate babies included 8 girls and 10 boys, the majority of whom were Italian, but also Spanish, American, Brazilian and Swiss.

    "It is especially moving to administer the sacrament of Baptism in this Sistine Chapel, in which extraordinary masterpieces of art remind us of the prodigies of the history of salvation, from the origins of man up to the Universal Judgment. But it is more significant to contemplate the signs of God's action in our life in the course of the Jubilee Year, which is totally centered on the mystery of Christ, who was born, died and resurrected for us."

    After expressing his prayer that the infants might grow in the faith, John Paul II made a heartfelt appeal to their emotional parents: "These little ones must find in you, as well as their godfathers and godmothers, support and guidance in the road of fidelity to Christ and the Gospel. Be examples of solid faith, profound prayer, and active commitment in ecclesial life to them."

    At the end of the papal homily, the cries and whimpers of the 18 infants could only be silenced with bottles offered by embarrassed mothers. This was followed by the invocation of the saints, especially those after whom the newly baptized were named; the exorcism prayer and the pre-baptismal anointing administered by two bishops who helped the Pope during the ceremony. Following the blessing of the baptismal water, the rejection of Satan, and profession of faith, the much awaited moment of the actual administration of the sacrament followed: pouring water on the infants' head into an artistic bronze basin placed in front of the Last Judgment. The brothers and sisters of the baptized babies crowded around to get a good view, and one of them took advantage of the situation to give the Pope a big kiss.

    The ceremony continued with the donning of the white garment and lighting of the Baptismal candles. The offertory procession was the task of the infants' brothers and sisters, some of whom were altogether distracted. But one day it will be up to them to tell those baptized today what the event was all about. ZE00010902


January 10, 2000
volume 10, no. 6

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