Each year on the Third Sunday of Advent children gather with their families in St. Peter’s Square in Rome for “Bambinelli Sunday.” It’s an Italian Catholic family tradition in which handcrafted babies or “bambinelli” destined to represent the Christ child in the family’s Nativity scene are blessed by the pope.
The charming new children’s book Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing by Amy Welborn tells the story of one little boy, Alessandro, and his journey to St. Peter’s Square to have his handcrafted clay bambinelli blessed by the Holy Father. With beautiful illustrations by artist Ann Kissane Engelhart, this Christmas story has become an instant classic here at Das Schmidt Haus with both kids and adults.
Now for you crafty souls out there, here’s a nice extension to the book. The illustrator has provided this wonderful tutorial for how to handcraft clay bambinelli. The activity is suitable for families or in settings such as religious ed classes where time is limited.
Does your parish celebrate Bambinelli Sunday?
Probably not. But perhaps over time more parishes across the world will follow Rome’s lead and incorporate the blessing into their Advent celebrations. Here’s a growing list who are. For now, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas … in Rome … with my family … and maybe we’ll get there two weeks early and find ourselves standing in St. Peter’s Square receiving a blessing with our bambinelli in hand.