It is hard to arrange a baby’s blessing at the best of times – but it’s even harder when coronavirus has shut churches across Britain.
Yet one new mother managed not only to get her baby blessed but also to have it done by the Archbishop of Canterbury when she fell ill following the birth of her son.
Ellen Eames, a 38-year-old vicar from London, was found to have dangerously high blood pressure at the end of her pregnancy and was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital last month.
When her baby, Alexander, was born, she was told she needed to stay in hospital with him for a further eight days while staff worked to get her condition under control.
With churches closed, Ellen knew it could be a long time until the newborn could get baptised and asked for a hospital chaplain to do the honours – and she was astonished when the Most Rev Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, arrived at her bedside.
As The Telegraph revealed last week, Archbishop Welby, 64, has been regularly visiting patients to offer support with the chaplaincy team, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.
St Thomas’ Hospital is just a short walk from the Primate of All England’s flat at Lambeth Palace.
Ellen said: “Luckily my recovery from the birth was fine, but emotionally it was a very hard week for me and my husband Ken, who was spending his first week as a father at home by himself and wasn’t allowed to visit us because of the outbreak.
“It made it extra special to have such an important visitor. I’d never met the Archbishop before, even though I’m a priest. It meant a lot to me that my baby could receive a blessing, especially at a challenging time.”
Mother and baby are now safely back home in Walworth, south London.