On Maundy Thursday, Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve young people – ten boys and women of different ages and nationalities – in the Casale del Marmo juvenile detention center on the outskirts of Rome. Among them was a Muslim. Before washing his feet, Francis celebrated Mass with the youth, with about 100 people in attendance.
It is the same prison in which he washed the feet of prisoners and prisoners on Maundy Thursday ten years ago – shortly after his election as pope. The Pope arrived at the ceremony altar in a wheelchair. The Holy Father explained: “It is very beautiful to help each other, to extend our hands. These are universal human gestures. With the gesture of washing the feet, Jesus wants to teach us the nobility of heart.”
In recent years, the Pope has celebrated Mass on Maundy Thursday in various prisons. This tradition was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but last year the Pope reconstructed the feet of convicts in Civitavecchia prison, north of Rome. Mass on Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper, where he washed the feet of his twelve apostles as a sign of humility and love. Traditionally, Maundy Thursday services were held in the Lateran Basilica, the actual Roman papal chapel. Francis’s ancestors usually washed the feet of deserving clergy.
Francis broke with tradition for his first Easter celebration in 2013 by celebrating the service at a juvenile detention center, largely to the exclusion of the media. In 2014, he moved Ritual to a facility for the disabled. Among other things, he washed the feet of a disabled Muslim from Libya. In 2015, the Pope washed the feet of prisoners in Rome’s Rebibbia prison. On Maundy Thursday 2016, he visited a refugee home. Washing the feet of refugees, including several Muslims.
Francis celebrated Chrism in St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday morning with the priests of the Archdiocese of Rome and the Vatican Curia. The Chrism is a prelude to the major liturgical celebrations around Easter. In the Liturgy of Chrism, sacred oils are consecrated, which are used for baptism, confirmation, and anointing of the sick, as well as for consecration. At the same time, in St. Peter’s Basilica, several priests renewed the vows they had made at their ordination.
On Friday, Easter celebrations will continue with Good Friday Mass in the Vatican and the Way of the Cross in the Colosseum. The 14 Stations of the Cross remind us of the Passion of Jesus. It is one of the most impressive celebrations in the year of the Roman Church. On Saturday evening, the Easter celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica, which lasts several hours, comes to pass on Easter Sunday, followed by the Easter Liturgy with the blessing that follows “Urbi et orbi”.
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