Pope Francis has told mothers to feel free to breastfeed their babies as they took part in a long Vatican ceremony in which he baptised 34 infants.

During the event in the Sistine Chapel, which lasted more than two hours, the Pope baptised 18 girls and 16 boys, including two pairs of twins.

The Pontiff encouraged parents to make sure the “language of love” is spoken at home.

He told mothers that, if their babies became restless or hungry during the ceremony, they should not be afraid and feed them.

“If they start performing a concert (by crying), or if they are uncomfortable, or too warm, or don’t feel at ease, or are hungry… breastfeed them, don’t be afraid, feed them, because this too is the language of love,” he said.

The Pope made the sign of the cross on the forehead of each child, and helped siblings do the same to their younger brother or sister.

The papal baptism is an annual event restricted to children of employees of the Vatican or the diocese of Rome, and held against the backdrop of the Sistine Chapel’s famous frescoes.

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