A Russian priest has been suspended and police are investigating after a one-year-old boy suffered scratches during a violent baptism.
Video showed Father Foty Necheporenko, a Russian Orthodox abbot, plunge the child roughly into a font that appeared to be too small.
He is seen pushing on his face to submerge him and knocking his head against the sides.
The boy’s mother Anastasia Alexeeva, 24, desperately tried to intervene – saying “let him go, he’s in pain” – but the priest continued.
Following the incident involving her son Demid at the Marienburg Church in Gatchina near St Petersburg, she said: “He did everything to hurt the child. He saw that he was big, that it was not possible to dive him into such a small font.
“He had to splash the water on his head. But still he decided to do it his way. The little one was crying and wriggling.
“I was afraid, I ran to him. I tried to take the child away. I nearly caught fire myself because my scarf touched the candles around the font.”
Ms Alexeeva says Demid sustained scratches on his shoulder and neck and suffers from “panic and hysteria”.
But Fr Necheporenko defended his actions and said: “The baby did not swallow any water, he did not hit the walls of the baptismal font.
“I have been serving for 26 years and I have always christened children like this. I performed my church duty.”
The church has suspended Fr Necheporenko for a year and police are now investigating.