The Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) has for many years been the day when the children of Rome bring the figurines of Baby Jesus from their family cribs to St. Peter’s Square to be blessed by the Pope during the Angelus. The day is affectionately known as “Bambinelli Sunday.” Instituted by St. Pope John Paul II during his Papacy, the tradition has continued and has grown in popularity across the universal Church. Children are invited to wrap the blessed figurines in Christmas wrapping when they return home, and to place them under the tree, to be opened as the first gift of Christmas; thus encouraging young children to make the connection between the gifts they receive on Christmas Day and the greatest gift that any of us can receive, Jesus; and the connection between the Nativity set at home and the local Church where they worship each weekend.
“The blessing of the “Bambinelli” [Baby Jesus gurines] as they are called in Rome, reminds us that the crib is a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy. This does not consist in having many things but in feeling loved by the Lord, in giving oneself as a gift for others and in loving one another. Let us look at the crib. Our Lady and St. Joseph do not seem to be a very fortunate family; their first child was born in the midst of great hardship; yet they are full of deep joy, because they love each other, they help each other and, especially, they are certain that God, who made himself present in the little Jesus, is at work in their story. And the shepherds? What did they have to rejoice about? That Newborn Infant was not to change their condition of poverty and marginalization. But faith helped them recognise the “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” as a “sign” of the fulfillment of God’s promises for all human beings, “with whom he is pleased” (Lk 2: 12, 14).”
BLESSING OF THE BABY JESUS
God our Father, You loved us so much you sent us your only Son, Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, to save us and lead us back to you. We pray that, with your blessing, these images of Jesus might be a sign of your presence and love in our homes. Good Father, give your blessing to all who gather with us this Christmas, our family and friends. Open our hearts, that we might receive Jesus in joy, do always what he asks of us, and see him in those who need our love. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your beloved Son, who came to give peace to the world. You, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen
When the figurine of the Baby Jesus is placed in the crib, your family might pray together:
Heavenly Father, we thank You that You love us so much that You gave us your only Son, Jesus, as a most precious gift . We ask you to bless this crib that we have prepared. Let it remind us of your presence with us in all the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows of our human lives. We thank You for the gifts we are about to receive; let them remind us of the gift You gave us; Jesus, your Son, who became one of us and taught us to be fully human. Help us to be generous like You. Help us to follow the example of Jesus in all we do. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen