MACHIAS — A wonderful tradition, originating during the papacy of Pope St. John Paul II, will be renewed in Washington County on the weekend of Dec. 11-12, the third Sunday of Advent.

The “Blessing of the Bambinelli” will occur at each Mass on Saturday and Sunday at Holy Name of Jesus Church on 8 Free Street in Machias (Sunday 8:30 a.m.), Sacred Heart Church on 14 Hamilton Street in Lubec (Saturday 4:30 p.m.), and St. Michael Church on 51 Elm Street in Cherryfield (Sunday 10:30 a.m.).

“On the Third Sunday of Advent in Rome, the pope has traditionally blessed the baby Jesus figurines (bambinelli) from home manger scenes,” said Fr. Philip Clement, administrator of St. Peter the Fisherman Parish of which the three churches are a part. “On the weekend of Dec. 11-12, we will also bless anyone’s baby Jesus figurines from home manger scenes. The blessing of the ‘bambinelli,’ as they are called in Rome, reminds us that the crib is a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy.”

In Rome, families fill St. Peter’s Square on Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent) for the blessing of the Gesù Bambino, the ‘little baby Jesus.’ On this day, the children bring from home their Christ-child figures, their bambinelli, in hands, in pockets, in backpacks, from their own family nativity scenes. Then, during the noontime Angelus address, the Holy Father invites all to hold up their bambinelli for a special blessing of the Christ-child figures, the children, and their families. Upon returning home, the figure is set safely out of sight for the remainder of Advent until happily placed in the crèche with the arrival of Christmas.

“How thankful we should be for the gift of hope in Jesus,” said Fr. Clement. “May our lives and our choices reflect this gratitude, and may Our Lord take pleasure in us as we take pleasure in Him.”