Blessing the baby Jesus: Parish adopts Vatican Advent tradition

  • Written by Louis McGill
  • Published in Local
A child holds a figurine of the baby Jesus to be blessed by the pope during the Angelus prayer on the third Sunday of Advent. Each year, children and families pack St. Peter’s Square for the traditional blessing. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring  A child holds a figurine of the baby Jesus to be blessed by the pope during the Angelus prayer on the third Sunday of Advent. Each year, children and families pack St. Peter’s Square for the traditional blessing. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

SAMMAMISH – Mary, Queen of Peace Parish celebrated the third Sunday of Advent with more than just a pink candle this year. 

Inspired by a parishioner and a children’s book, Father Kevin Duggan, pastor of the Sammamish parish, adopted the Vatican tradition of blessing Nativity scene figurines of the infant Jesus. Mary, Queen of Peace parishioners brought their figurines to Mass for a blessing after the general intercessions.

Known as “Bambinelli Sunday” (“Bambinelli” is the Italian name for the figurines), the tradition was started by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Since then, the blessing has been given by the pope during the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on the third Sunday of Advent.

Parishioner Adriana Alvarez first brought the practice to Father Duggan’s attention after hearing the book “Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing” by Amy Welborn being discussed on Sacred Heart Radio last year. Alvarez said she thought the story was beautiful and bought her family a copy of the book for Christmas.

“We live today in a world where our kids and family are bombarded with a different meaning of Christmas,” Alvarez said. Bringing the tradition to her parish, she said, would help refocus families on the true meaning of the Advent season and help children establish a connection between church and home.

In a phone interview, Welborn noted that in one of Pope Benedict XVI’s Bambinelli blessings, he said the point of Advent and Christmas is to celebrate God entering our lives and homes. “We are literally bringing the baby Jesus into our homes,” the Alabama-based author said.

Now an increasing number of parishes, like Mary, Queen of Peace, are incorporating the custom in their Advent traditions — one of her hopes in writing the book, Welborn said.