VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is leading a baptism ceremony for 34 babies in the splendor of the Sistine Chapel.
With Michelangelo's frescoes on the ceiling overhead, the parents — some with other young children in tow — brought 18 girls and 16 boys forward to Francis. The pope then made the sign of the cross on the forehead of each child. Some babies slept, others cooed, and at least one mother gave her baby a bottle of milk.
Fathers said aloud the first names of the children designated for baptism Sunday in what has become an annual event on one of the first Sundays of the year in the chapel where popes are elected by cardinals. One of the children is named Francesco, the Italian version of the papal name.