Pope Francis said that he wanted to keep his homily short because the babies might not feel comfortable in their baptism gowns and in a new environment. “Babies are not used to coming to the Sistine Chapel,” he joked.
The pope reminded the parents that their personal example at home will help their child to grow in faith. He said that baptizing a child is an act of justice because the child receives the pledge of the Holy Spirit through the sacrament.
Each of the 32 baptized infants are children of Vatican employees born in 2019. St. John Paul II began the papal tradition of baptizing children in the Sistine Chapel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Following the Mass, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus prayer from the window of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“As soon as Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove, while a voice rang out from above saying: ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,’” he said.
The pope said that it is important for each Catholic to know and remember the date of their own baptism. This is a date to be celebrated, he said, because it is when we received the Holy Spirit that remains with us.
“On the feast of the Baptism of Jesus we rediscover our baptism. As Jesus is the beloved Son of the Father, we too, born of water and the Holy Spirit, know that we are beloved children … invested in a great mission to testify and announce to all men the boundless love of the Father,” Pope Francis said.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.