Pope Francis washes the feet of 12 prisoners, including a Muslim

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Pope Francis washes the feet of 12 prisoners, including a Muslim

Pope Francis

In this image provided by Vatican Media, Pope Francis kisses the feet of an inmate of Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison

Source: dpa/-

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Preparations for Easter have begun in the Vatican. Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve young prisoners in a prison in Rome in the evening – including a Muslim. The ritual on Maundy Thursday commemorates the washing of feet during the last supper.

WA few days after his hospitalization, Pope Francis led two major Maundy Thursday ceremonies. In the afternoon he visited a juvenile prison on the outskirts of Rome and washed the feet of twelve young prisoners. This ritual commemorates the last supper of Jesus before the crucifixion. Before that, he presided over a mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and also gave a long sermon.

Francis had visited the same Casa del Marmo juvenile detention center shortly after his election as pontiff in 2013 and also performed the foot washing at that time – as a symbol of humility. From the start, he used his pontificate to draw attention to people on the fringes of society.

This time he performed the ritual on ten male and two female prisoners. According to the Vatican, among the 12 were a Muslim from Senegal and young people from Romania, Russia and Croatia. The Pope bent over and poured water on each foot, patted the foot dry with a white towel and kissed it. Many of the young prisoners whispered something in the pope’s ear, and he chatted with them briefly.

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Jesus “washes all our feet,” Francis told several dozen inmates gathered in the prison chapel. “He knows all our weaknesses,” he said in a completely improvised sermon. Francis assured the young prisoners that “any one of us” could become a sinner. The lesson should be to help each other to make life better.

Francis reminds priests of ‘own weaknesses’

The 86-year-old was only five days earlier discharged from a clinic in Rome where he had been given intravenous antibiotics for bronchitis. His voice was powerful during the service in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Francis used the sermon to give the priests courage for their ministry. He spoke of a crisis in the priesthood, but did not explicitly mention the decades-long scandals of sexual abuse by clergy. “Sooner or later we all experience disappointment, frustration and our own weaknesses,” he said. In an impromptu remark during the homily, he exhorted priests not to forget to be “shepherds of the people.”

Despite his health problems, Francis does not want to take it easy. When he was released from the hospital on Saturday, the Vatican had announced that the Pope would complete the entire Holy Week program. These include the Stations of the Cross procession on Good Friday in the Colosseum and the Easter Mass on Easter Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.



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