The Pope has baptised 16 babies in the Sistine Chapel in Rome to mark the Feast day that recalls Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan.
The 9 girls and 7 boys are all children of Vatican employees working at the Holy See.
Pope Francis told the parents that their duty was to "preserve the Christian identity" of their children. He also encouraged the babies’ parents to keep their infants warm, since it can be quite cool in the Sistine Chapel during the Winter months, and to make them feel at home, nurse them and to realize that if they cry, it is also an expression of their spirit being in community with all those present.
The tradition of the Pope baptising the children of Holy See employees was started in 1981 by Pope John Paul II and since 1983 the ceremony has been held in the splendour of the Sistine Chapel.
Last year, as part of precautions against Covid-19, the baptism ceremony wasn’t held.
The Sistine Chapel is situated in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. It was built by Pope Sixtus IV between 1473 and 1481 and is famous for its ceiling frescoes by the Renaissance artist Michaelangelo.