Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 prisoners today at a traditional service, inviting them to reject any form of “hierarchy” within the prison or the law of the strongest, and to help each other instead.
Pope Francis’ predecessors held the traditional Holy Thursday rite in one of the great basilicas of Rome, washing the feet of 12 priests. However, to emphasize the symbolism of the service to others, Pope Francis has transferred it to prisons, immigrant centres, and nursing homes.
It is the fifth time that the Pope from Argentina is washing Christian and non-Christian feet at a ceremony that commemorates the gesture of Jesus when he washed the feet of his disciples to teach them the concept of humility the night before His Crucifixion.
The Pontiff told the prisoners that in Jesus’ time the washing of visitors’ feet was the job for slaves and servants. “This is the rule of Jesus and the rule of the gospel. The rule of service, not of domination or of humiliating others,” he said.