ST. PAUL, Minn. - A baby boy is safe and being checked at a hospital after he was found abandoned at the Cathedral of St. Paul Wednesday night.
The child was discovered by Cathedral maintenance worker Nathan Leonhardt, who was making his rounds after the nightly mass around 6 p.m. The infant was lying in a laundry basket wrapped in a blanket and appeared in good condition. He was brought to Father John Ubel, who called 911. Police and fire crews were dispatched, and the baby was transported to St. Paul Children's Hospital to be examined and cared for. When he is ready the little boy will be placed in the care of Ramsey County Child Protective Services.
Before he was taken from the Cathedral, Father Ubel baptized the tiny boy and named him Nathan, after the man who found him.
"I am profoundly grateful that this beautiful baby is healthy and safe and that whomever dropped him off at the Cathedral felt that this was a safe place where he would receive the care he needs and deserves as a child of God," Father Ubel said.
Leonhardt says he thought the basket may have been laundry belonging to someone who was praying at the Cathedral. He noticed it, continued on his door locking routine, then came back and saw the basket was still there. He reached inside and heard crying. At first, he thought it was a puppy but then pulled the blanket back, saw it was a child, and picked the infant up. Leonhardt then called Father Ubel and told him to come quickly.
St. Paul Police spokesman Sergeant Mike Ernster says police are happy the baby boy is safe, but they are concerned about the safety of the mother, who may have given birth without medical care. He is encouraging that mother, wherever she is, to seek medical or mental health care or call 911, with no fear of legal consequences.
Minnesota's Safe Haven law states that a distressed parent who is unable or unwilling to care for their infant can give up custody of their baby within the first seven days of that child's life, no questions asked. They must simply bring the infant to a safe haven location (a hospital) and make sure they locate a person to give the child. As long as the child shows no signs of intentional abuse, no name or other information is required.
While the baby was not left at a hospital, Ernster says the mother operated in the spirit of the law, which is based on ensuring the safety of newborns. It is for that reason police will not seek to identify or charge her.
MN Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper says 10 mothers left babies at safe havens in 2015.