Pope conducts foot-washing ceremony at female prison

Pope Francis performs humble foot-washing ceremony at Rome’s Rebibbia prison. — Vatican Media  Pope Francis, who looked healthy, went to the female prison of Rebibbia in Rome on Holy Thursday.

Sitting in his wheelchair, the 84-year-old pontiff washed and kissed the feet of 12 women prisoners. The ritual commemorates Jesus’ gesture of humility to his followers at the Last Supper before he was crucified.

About 370 women prisoners witnessed the special event. The ceremony marks the start of a four-day journey towards Easter.

Pope Francis conducts the ceremony outside churches, like in prisons or homes for old people. He is the first pope to include women, atheists, Muslims, and others in the rituals.

Before him, it was usually just men, often priests who took part in the ceremony.

He talked about helping others in his speech. “Each of you has their own story but the Lord listens to us with open arms and never tires of forgiving,” he said.

Listening to him, several women cried because they were moved by his words.

The prison director Nadia Fontana said that Pope’s presence was like sunshine and a ray of hope. The prisoners even gave him gifts, like special stoles they made.

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