I love a good picture book that I can sit down with my children and that will captivate both them and me until the very end. Bambinelli Sunday – A Christmas Blessing written by Amy Welborn and illustrated by Ann Engelhart is one such story.
This charming story tells the tale of young Alessandro who learns to make a clay figure of the Christ Child from his grandfather and then learns so much more. The story is set against the backdrop of an actual annual event. In Italy on the Third Sunday of Advent, children and their families travel to St. Peter’s Square to celebrate “Bambinelli Sunday.” On this special day, the children bring with them figures of baby Jesus – the “Bambinelli” – from their family’s Nativity scene. The pope during the noontime Angelus prayer than blesses both the children and the figurines. This time-honored tradition is cleverly told through this little boy and his grandfather. With this real life event in the background young Alessandro learns a very valuable lesson.
I have never heard of this practice before, making the story even more interesting. This is a wonderfully illustrated book and is great for the entire family to share especially during the Third Sunday of Advent or the set-up and blessing of a nativity. I suspect through the reading of this book that this could become an annual tradition at the parish level and that more than one family will have their Bambinelli’s blessed by their parish priest. A nice addition to the book was that the last page of the book includes the blessing Pope Benedict XVI gave in 2008 on Bambinelli Sunday. A wonderful prayer to use each Advent season to help “these images of Jesus…be a sign of [God’s] presence and love in our homes.”