While today we take the idea that children are sacred for granted—honouring them for their innocence, purity, honesty and vulnerability—this concept has not always been part of the bedrock of society. It was largely introduced into the Western world by Christianity, after the teachings of Jesus Christ helped to instill a sense of equality and value for all life into the harsh societies of ancient Europe, where once only wealth and status gave a human life worth. Today, while such primitive times are long behind us, we carry on in our traditions the scared duty of cherishing new life.
As you can see beautifully illustrated by the angelic christening photography (in Limassol, Cyprus) below, the rituals associated with the Christian tradition strongly emphasize the importance of cherishing life as soon as it begins. Children, these rituals teach us, are a gift from a God, and childhood is a time of being allowed to “discover the free dimension of love and to have the experience of being loved before doing anything to deserve it,” as described recently by Pope Francis. In other words, to celebrate childhood is to celebrate unconditional love—the pure love that God embodies.
As you can see from the radiant joy on the faces of Nicoleta, Rares, and Timeea (the sister of the infant, Sofia Nicole), a christening is one of the most profound ways of immortalising in images and memories alike the fact that we are loved as children “before knowing how to speak or think, even before coming into the world.”
Here at the Agya Triada Church (Holy Trinity), and during the outing that followed afterwards at the “Cosy Corner” restaurant in Limassol, in their own unique way, this little family (who I have had the pleasure of photographing once before) expressed and honoured the divine. In these joyful moments, they gave witness to the fact that it is unconditional love which gives us the strength to face our lives in all their myriad challenges—from the moment they begin—for love is the first language we learn to speak, and its meaning is never forgotten, no matter how long we might live.