Pope Francis Welcomes Mothers To Breastfeed In The Sistine Chapel

01/12/2015 12:02pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
Pope Francis, left, baptizes a baby at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. Pope Francis on Sunday baptized 33 babies in the Sistine Chapel as part of an annual tradition, this year repeating an invitation to mothers to nurse their babies if crying out of hunger. For the first time in his pontificate, Francis celebrated Mass with his back to the faithful, according to the rites before the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, pool)

This past Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord by baptizing 33 babies in the Sistine Chapel, NBC News reports. During the mass, the Catholic leader encouraged the infants' mothers to breastfeed their babies.

"You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don't worry," Pope Francis declared in his homily. According to Reuters, the written sermon used the Italian phrase for "give them milk," but during his remarks, the Pope changed it to "allattateli," which directly translates to "breastfeed them."

During the mass, Pope Francis also asked the congregation to think of the impoverished mothers around the world -- "too many, unfortunately, who cant give food to their children," he said, according to NBC News.

Pope Francis has shown his support for breastfeeding in public in the past. In a December 2013 interview with La Stampa, the religious leader declared that moms shouldn't feel ashamed to nurse their babies outside the home:

At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few month s old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it. I said to her: madam, I think the child’s hungry. “Yes, it’s probably time…” she replied. “Please give it something to eat!” I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat!

In a time when women are often shamed for nursing their children in public, it's good to know that one of the world's most influential leaders is in support of breastfeeding mothers.