Pope Francis urged 12 prisoners as he washed and kissed their feet at a traditional “Washing of the Feet” service, to avoid any inmate hierarchy structure but help each other instead.
Traditionally, Pope Francis’ predecessors held the Holy Thursday rite in one of Rome’s basilicas washing the feet of 12 priests, but Francis transferred it to places of confinement, such as prisons, immigrant centers or old age homes to emphasize its symbolism of service.
This year, Pope Francis traveled to a prison in Velletri, around 40 km outside Rome.
In Jesus time, Pope Francis said, as he washed and kissed the inmates’ feet, “washing the feet of visitors was the job of slaves.”
According to the Holy Father, “his is the rule of Jesus and the rule of the gospel. The rule of service, not of domination or of humiliating others.”
Among those inmates Pope Francis washed were nine Italians, one Brazilian, one Moroccan and one Ivorian.