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How it feels to have the Pope baptize your child

2016-01-17

Aliaksandr and Aušra were married in Belarus five years ago. They now live in Rome, and their baby was one of 26 that Pope Francis recently baptized in the Sistine Chapel.

AUŠRA
"We knew each other in Vilna, my city, in Lithuania. I already lived in Rome and I came back for summer vacations. At a meeting for young Franciscans, they introduced us and said, 'This man is going to Rome to study and maybe you can help him with the language.'”

"And was she a good teacher?”
"Yes, she gave me a hand and also her heart.”

Their first child is named Algerd, and their second one, Arvid, was born in September. Shortly afterward, news came: the Pope would baptize him. It's an ongoing tradition: Every year, the Pope baptizes children of Vatican employees.

AUŠRA
"I was so worried because I didn't know what to do if the baby started to cry or how to calm him, because the ceremony was going to be very long. FLASH However, the baby was very calm, in part thanks to what the Pope told us. He said if the baby is crying because he's hungry, it's OK to feed him. And, in fact, I did this and he barely cried.”

POPE FRANCIS
"If your child is hungry, give him or her something to eat, with total freedom.”

ALIAKSANDR
"It was an unforgettable moment because we looked into the Pope's eyes, and as good as he is, he showed tenderness. He always spoke with tenderness about God and I believe that he wants to transmit this tenderness with his gestures. For instance, when he gently caressed the child's head so it wouldn't get soaked with water.”

Plenty of family members attended the ceremony, including Dawn's grandparents, who came from Lithuania. They're almost 90 years old, but they made the trip because opportunities like this just come around very often. 

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