While baptising 33 infants in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Francis tells the mothers to feel free to breastfeed their children.

“You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don’t worry,” says Pope Francis, departing from his prepared text, during the ceremony on Jan 11. 

The written text of his homily has the phrase “give them milk,” but he changed it to use the Italian term “allattateli”, which means “breastfeed them,” and adds that the mothers should not hesitate.

As the 20 girls and 13 boys in the room famous for Michelangelo’s frescoes cried, Francis asks his listeners to remember poor mothers around the world, “too many, unfortunately, who cant give food to their children”.

Even before he read the homily, at least one mother was seen breastfeeding, perhaps recalling that the pope had previously encouraged mothers to feel at ease. Baptism is the sacrament at which infants or converts are initiated into the Christian faith. Francis poured water on the foreheads of the infants as part of the ritual.

The Sistine Chapel, celebrated for its ceiling frescoes painted in the 16th century by renowned Renaissance artist Michelangelo, is the room where cardinals elect popes in secret conclaves. Francis was elected pope there on March 13, 2013. – Reuters