Newborn baby found 'wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger'

by Gregory Tomlin |

(Father Christopher Heanue)An hours-old baby, discovered in a manger in a Catholic church's Christmas display, receives treatment from paramedics Nov. 24. Police are searching for the mother who left the child at the church, but it is uncertain if she will face charges.

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – It wasn't a retelling of the miraculous birth of the Son of God, but for church workers who found the baby in the church's manger display, the baby's presence was a miracle nonetheless.

On Nov. 24, police were called to the Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill – in New York City – after a newborn infant, only hours old and with his umbilical cord still attached, was discovered lying in the manger. He was wrapped in blue towels.

I was shocked and, yet, really moved by it. The church is meant to be home for those in need and Pope Francis preaches about mercy and this is that year of mercy. And what more merciful way to live but to give a home to somebody in need.
- Father Christopher Heanue

The child was taken to the Jamiaca Queens Hospital for treatment, but is said to be healthy.

The church's pastor, Father Christopher Heanue, told WCBS Television that he and others at the church were thankful the child wasn't abandoned but placed "in the hands of God" – a gift to the church.

"I was shocked and, yet, really moved by it. The church is meant to be home for those in need and Pope Francis preaches about mercy and this is that year of mercy. And what more merciful way to live but to give a home to somebody in need," Heanue said.

Under New York's Abandoned Infant Protection Act, those who do not want an infant up to 30 days old may drop the child off at a "Safe Haven," or a location where the child will be cared for by police, fire fighters, EMTs or church workers.

In this instance, the child's mother complied with that instruction, but did not notify someone that the child was placed there – a key requirement of the law.

The baby might have been unattended all night if the church's custodian had not heard his cries from inside the crèche that had just been installed in the front of the church.

According to New York City police, surveillance video shows several women entering and leaving the church. One of those women was seen carrying a blue bundle of towels into the church, the same type of towel wrapped around the infant. Police also uncovered surveillance video of a woman buying the towels at a nearby store. 

Custodian José Morn, who was the first to see the child, said he called his wife and told her about the baby.

"She asked me why I didn't bring him home," Moran told the New York Daily News. "I hope he finds the right home. He's a miracle baby."