August 13, 2001 12:00 PM

Like his mother, 6-month-old René-Charles Angélil knows how to make himself heard. During his July 25 baptism in the chapel of Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica, Celine Dion’s firstborn “was a very intent baby,” says Monsignor Yvon Bigras, one of the celebrants. “He cried at first, because I think he wanted to participate, although he stopped when Celine held him. He spoke, in his own way, through the entire baptism.”

The 33-year-old French-Canadian singer, who read a poem of thanks from the pulpit, cried a bit too. No one doubts those were Dion’s tears of joy for her baby, conceived with her manager and husband, René Angélil, 59, in the spring of 2000 after long and difficult fertility treatments. With a string quartet playing Bach and Vivaldi and the ceremony conducted according to the rites of Angélil’s church—Melkite Greek Catholic—”it was a beautiful affair,” says Zev Rosenwaks, the Manhattan doctor who oversaw Dion’s artificial insemination, “with an intimate, family feeling.”

Of course, a few details were more in keeping with Dion’s superstardom. Some 200 fans, who had begun amassing outside the cathedral as early as 5:30 a.m., cheered when Dion let them glimpse René-Charles. As the service ended and bells pealed for noonday mass, 250 guests—”Our family alone made for around 100,” says Jacques Dion, one of Celine’s 13 siblings—were taken by bus to her palatial island-bound home in Laval, 20 minutes outside Montreal. There, as children played on a carousel and grown-ups dined beneath tents on seafood, couscous and flat breads, Angélil spoke movingly of becoming a father and thanked Dr. Rosenwaks. “René-Charles is a beautiful, healthy baby,” says Rosenwaks. As to whether other children are planned, he adds, “I don’t know when I’d expect to attend the next family baptism.”

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