Some slept, some squirmed, some smiled and some screamed. And a few were named Francesco or Francesca.

Pope Francis welcomed 13 boys and 13 girls into the Catholic Church on Sunday during the annual ceremony that marks the day in the liturgical calendar when Jesus was baptized.

Gurgles and wails nearly drowned out the organ and choir, echoing off the stone floors and frescoed walls of the Sistine Chapel.

In his off-the-cuff and deliberately brief homily, Francis urged the parents to teach their children the faith. And as he has done in previous years, he told the mothers to go ahead and nurse their hungry babes.

He said: "One bit of advice to the moms: When a baby cries because he's hugry, feed him. Feel free to feed him here."