A pregnant Nigerian woman, who departed from the Libyan coast on a voyage to Europe ended up giving birth on the German naval ship that rescued her and 654 other migrants.
According to the German Military Chaplaincy, the Nigerian woman named Vivian was one of 655 people who piled onto four flimsy dinghies in order to reach Europe with the hope of a better life.
On July 6, their first day at sea, a German naval ship saw the boats, and, recognizing the precarious condition of the dinghies, described as “un-seaworthy,” brought them on board.
Immediately after being rescued, Vivian went into labour and delivered a baby boy on board the ship. The military chaplain Fr. Jochen Folz and the medical team immediately offered their support. After only a few minutes Vivan made one wish very clear: she was Catholic, and she wanted her newborn son to be baptized.
So Fr. Folz got to work right away with the help of ship’s officers and crew: the radio operator enabled the Internet so the priest could access the English texts needed for the rite of Baptism, while others found a sauceboat, matching tray for a makeshift “baptismal” font and a candle.
A woman named Martina O., who was also rescued from the dinghies, agreed to take on the role of the child’s godmother. Fr. Folz asked Vivian:
“What name will you give your child,” to which she replied: “Ikpomosa.”
After pouring water over the child’s head three times with the sauceboat while reciting the ancient biblical formula: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” the priest then lit the candle and passed to his godmother.
Fr. Folz draped his white priestly stole over the newborn as a symbol of the divine sonship since there was no white baptismal gown.
As a baptismal gift, baby Ikpomosa was given a medal of St. Michael the Archangel, while Vivian and Martina were each given a medal of the Virgin Mary. All three had been prepared by a medical soldier, who tied a ribbon on each so they could be hung or tied somewhere safe.