Jesus’ gesture of washing his disciples’ feet, an act once reserved to servants and slaves, is one that all Christians, especially bishops, must imitate, Pope Francis told hundreds of inmates and prison employees on Holy Thursday.
“Jesus’ rule and the rule of the Gospel” is to serve others and not “to dominate, do evil or humiliate others,” the pope said April 18 during his homily at the Velletri Correctional Facility, 36 miles south of Rome.
“The church asks the bishop to imitate Jesus’ gesture every year — at least once a year — on Holy Thursday,” he said. “The bishop isn’t the most important (person); the bishop must be the greatest servant. And each one of us must be servants to others.”Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the prison and washed the feet of a dozen inmates. Nine were Italian and one each was from Brazil, Ivory Coast and Morocco, the Vatican said.
Vatican News reported the prison houses more than 570 prisoners; 60 percent of those incarcerated are non-Italians.
The Mass was held in the room the prison uses as a theater; it was draped in white curtains. The altar, lectern and a wooden statue of Mary were adorned with white and yellow flowers.
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