STUART | In anticipation of the birth of Christ, many Catholic families live out the season of Advent with a Nativity set displayed in their homes. Some families even wait until Christmas day to reveal the figurine of baby Jesus, saving the figurine for last on the joyous day.
Another tradition among Catholic families with young children is to celebrate Bambinelli Sunday, a day in which children take the figurine of baby Jesus (Bambinelli in Italian) to their parish for a special blessing. This tradition was first instituted by St. John Paul II and typically takes place on the third Sunday of Advent. It serves as a reminder to families that, amidst the garland and Christmas trees, the true meaning of the Christmas celebration is the birth of Jesus. It also reinforces the message that Christ, as well as the Church, welcomes the birth of each and every person as a child of God.
St. Andrew Parish in Stuart celebrated Bambinelli Sunday, Dec. 13, with Msgr. Blase Gintoli, assisting priest, dispensing a special blessing of Bambinelli figurines brought to church by parishioners. Figurines were also available for purchase at the church, with all proceeds going to the Christmas Tree program for those in need this holiday season.
Before Mass, children placed their Bambinelli on a table to be blessed at the front of the church. A young parishioner named Channing, while lovingly holding his Bambinelli, said, “I’m happy. I am bringing Jesus to be blessed.”
“I began this tradition myself in my former parish in Connecticut well over 20 years ago,” Msgr. Gintoli said. “When I retired to Florida in 2011, and began assisting at St. Andrew Parish, we inaugurated Bambinelli Sunday. It serves to remind our parishioners of the true meaning of Christmas—to prepare a private place for Jesus in your heart and in your home.”
Msgr. Gintoli was dressed in a rose-colored chasuble for the third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday, meaning “rejoice” in Latin. This color is traditionally worn to indicate that a period of joy is approaching and that the season of preparation is ending. In Advent, this means the birth of Christ is upon us.
Msgr. Gintoli blessed the figurines with a prayer: “God, Our Father, you loved us so much that you sent us your only son, Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary to save us and to 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. Our Father, give your blessing to all who gather with us this Christmas, our family and our friends. Open our hearts that we might receive Jesus in joy, do always what he asks of us, and see him in those who are in need. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your beloved son, who came to give peace to the world, to live and reign forever and ever. Amen.”
To learn more about St. Andrew Parish, visit saintandrewcatholic.org or call 772-781-4415.
This year, the Diocese of Palm Beach transitioned the Lumen Christi Scholarship Gala to the Lumen Christi Scholarship Appeal. One hundred percent of the net proceeds are allocated to tuition scholarships enabling students to attend Catholic schools.
“This was our most successful Lumen Christi yet,” said David Walsh, associate director of development for the Diocese of Palm Beach. “The Giving Tuesday portion of the appeal was matched by the Frank & Vera Ferola Charitable Foundation, Inc. We are incredibly grateful to our loyal donors who, even in this time of crisis, have made it possible for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend Catholic school receive a Catholic education. The support from the faith community when times get tough is a testament to our faith.”
Diocesan Catholic schools provide for the education and formation of approximately 6,000 students encompassing the five counties of the Diocese of Palm Beach. In developing the gifts, talents, and uniqueness of students, the 18 diocesan schools seek to prepare leaders and Christian stewards as a beacon of hope for the Church of the future.