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Feed your hungry babies, Pope tells mothers in Sistine Chapel

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN
January 12, 2014 -- Updated 1714 GMT (0114 HKT)
Pope Francis baptizes a child inside the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican on Sunday, January 12. The Pope baptized 32 infants during the ceremony. Pope Francis baptizes a child inside the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican on Sunday, January 12. The Pope baptized 32 infants during the ceremony.
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Pope Francis baptizes 32 children
Pope Francis baptizes 32 children
Pope Francis baptizes 32 children
Pope Francis baptizes 32 children
Pope Francis baptizes 32 children
Pope Francis baptizes 32 children
Pope Francis baptizes 32 children
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pope Francis baptizes 32 babies in Sistine chapel on Sunday
  • Pope tells mothers to feed crying babies during the ceremony if they want
  • 19 new cardinals from around the world named Sunday
  • Pope, elected last March, is known for embracing humble way of life

(CNN) -- It boasts some of the world's most celebrated works of art: Michelangelo's frescoes depicting the creation of man and a severe God at the Last Judgment.

But on Sunday, Pope Francis told mothers not to feel intimidated by the splendid surroundings of the Sistine Chapel as he baptized 32 sometimes wailing babies.

At the yearly event, Francis, who has become known for the more simple style he has introduced in the Vatican, offered a brief homily centered on the infants.

"Today the choir sings but the most beautiful choir is of children," he said.

"Some are crying, because they are uncomfortable, or because they are hungry. If they are hungry, mothers, give them something to eat. ... They are the central figures, the protagonists."

Formally welcoming the children as members of the Catholic Church, the pontiff poured water from a shell-shaped dish over the heads of the babies, dressed in white satin or silk gowns.

In the same chapel last March, he was elected as the first Latin American pope. He has since made headlines for embracing a humble way of life.

Also on Sunday, Pope Francis named 19 new cardinals from Africa, Latin America, Asia and elsewhere during his weekly address to worshipers gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Sixteen of the new appointees, who will be instated next month, are under the age of 80, making them eligible to enter a conclave to elect the Pope's successor.

The pontiff also said three archbishops emeriti, over the age of 80, will join the College of Cardinals.

CNN's Lindsay Isaac and Hadia Messia contributed to this report.

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