Italian Family Joyful as Pope Welcomes Baby Into Church

Marco della Monaca was one of the 20 infants baptized by the Holy Father on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Baby Marco della Monaca and his parents in the Sistine Chapel Jan. 13, 2013.
Baby Marco della Monaca and his parents in the Sistine Chapel Jan. 13, 2013. (photo: CTV)

VATICAN CITY — Little Marco is just one of the 20 babies who were baptized by Pope Benedict this year on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jan. 13.

“It’s given joy to the whole family,” said Marco’s father, Bruno della Monaca, who works as an accountant for the Secretariat of State, the Roman Curia’s oldest office.

“Working in the Vatican we had the possibility to have our baby baptized by the Holy Father, and we know it’s a privilege that not everyone has,” he added.

Pope Benedict baptized the children during Mass at the Sistine Chapel on Sunday, before praying with thousands of pilgrims at his weekly Angelus.

The day marked the feast of the baptism of Jesus, the day John the Baptist baptized him at the Jordan River.

“It’s not the first time I participated in a ceremony presided by Pope Benedict XVI, but there are always a lot of emotions when you’re close to him and when you receive this sort of honor,” della Monaca said.

“And having the baptism take place in the Sistine Chapel made it feel even holier.”

The Pope told parents during the homily that asking their children to be baptized meant they were manifesting and bearing witness to their faith.

“To you, dear godfathers and godmothers, the important task is to support the work of parents in education, along with transmitting the truths of faith and witness to the values of the Gospel by raising these children in a deeper friendship with the Lord,” Pope Benedict said.

Della Monaca recalled that before Marco was born, he and his wife did not think about having the possibility of their baby being baptized by the Pope.

“It was after my wife became pregnant, especially during her last few months, that we began to realize that we would like this to happen,” he said. “We then made the request, and the Holy Father accepted.”

The Italian couple have another daughter but were not able to have her baptized by the Pope because she was too old, as Benedict XVI baptizes children up to four months of age.

“We were fortunate this time with the second child,” said della Monaca, who hopes to have more children and that they too will be baptized by the Pope.

The Holy Father keeps this annual tradition as well as that of administering baptism, confirmation and first holy Communion to a group of adult converts on Holy Saturday in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Benedict will confirm a small group of young boys and girls on April 28 as part of an initiative of the Year of Faith.