Pope Francis has personally baptised the two-year-old conjoined twin girls from the Central African Republic who were separated in June in a delicate and pioneering operation at the Vatican-run Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital.
The little girls, Ervina and Prefina, arrived in Rome in September 2018 for the operation, which was successfully carried out on June 5 in the hospital in Rome.
The information of the babies’ baptism August 6 in the chapel of the papal residence, the Casa Santa Marta, was provided today by Antoinette Montaigne, a Central African politician and former Minister of Communication in the country who posted a photo on social networks showing the girls with the Pope, their mother and their godparents.
The girls were conjoined at the cranial and cerebral level, and to separate them a multidisciplinary group was formed that studied and planned every detail of the surgery with the most advanced tools, including a 3D reconstruction of the babies’ skulls.
The girls came from the town of Mbaiki, where the hospital was not prepared to perform a similar operation.
“Ervina and Prefina were born twice. If we had stayed in Africa, I don’t know what fate they would have had”, the little girls’ mother, Ermine Bangalo, said in a press conference last month announcing the success of the separation procedure.
“Now that they are separated and doing well, I would like them to be baptised by Pope Francis, who has always taken care of the children of Bangui. My little ones can now grow up, study and become doctors to save other children”, Bangalo continued on that occasion, expressing a wish for her babies that has now come true.
For her part, director of the Bambino Gesù hospital Mariella Enoc said that Pope Francis had swiftly agreed to the girls’ mother’s wish that he baptise them personally, but on the condition that no photos or cameras be allowed into the rite carried out in the chapel where he says his famous morning Masses in order to preserve the family intimacy of the event.
“And indeed this was a family moment”, Enoc, who attended the baptism, told Vatican Insider.
“It was really a gift that the Pope wanted to give to these girls, but also to the family of the Bambino Gesù which expended so much energy on this not easy operation”, the hospital director explained.