Time to start nagging…
Bambinelli Sunday is the title of a book I wrote with the wonderful watercolor illustrations by Ann Engelhart.
But it’s also a real thing, this “Bambinelli Sunday.”
No, it’s not on the liturgical calendar, but it’s definitely a thing, started several years ago in Rome, and continuing today.
Usually celebrated on the third Sunday of Advent , children of Rome are invited to bring Bambinelli – baby Jesus figures from their nativities – to St. Peter’s Square for a blessing from the Holy Father.
(This year, they changed it to 12/20 though…don’t know why…)
(“Apriti cuore” means “open up the heart”)
Every year, I collect notices of parishes who are incorporating this tradition. Here’s the beginning of the list:
Mentioned by the “Catholic Grandparents Association” in Ireland...unclear whether this an event or just a suggestion…
I’ll be adding to this list as time goes on and bulletins get put online.
- In your home, Catholic school or Catholic parish school of religion, have children make a “bambinelli” like the one the boy in our story made…or any kind you like.
- Invite children and families to bring the bambinelli they’ve made and/or the Christ Child from their home nativity set to church for a blessing after Mass on that Sunday.
- If that’s not possible, invite a priest or deacon to class or a religious education session to bless the infant figures.
- You could have a special Advent event – an evening or Saturday morning – in which children and families are invited to come craft a bambinelli, share stories, share food, and, at the end, have their figures blessed.
And the point?
The point is that Advent and Christmas are about welcoming the Word of God into our lives – which means our homes. The blessing of the Bambinelli – which we bring from our homes and return there – is an embodiment of this. As Pope Emeritus Benedict said in his 2008 prayer for the event:
God, our Father
you so loved humankind
that 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,
who is about to come among us,
may be a sign of your presence and
love in our homes.
give your Blessing to us too,
to our parents, to our families and
to our friends.
Open our hearts,
so that we may be able to
receive Jesus in joy,
always do what he asks
and see him in all those
who are in need of our love.
We ask you this in the name of Jesus,
your beloved Son
who comes to give the world peace.
He lives and reigns forever and ever.