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Pope washes feet of 12 women prisoners on Holy Thursday

By AFP - Mar 29,2024 - Last updated at Mar 29,2024

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, who often pleads for compassion to prisoners, washed the feet of 12 incarcerated women in Rome on Thursday in a rite marking Holy Thursday before Easter.

The Argentinian Jesuit visited the Rebibbia women’s prison in the north-eastern outskirts of the Italian capital, where he performed the same rite in 2015.

Thursday, however, was the first time the 87-year-old Pontiff had dedicated his annual ritual during Holy Week solely to women.

Seated in a wheelchair, the Pope washed the feet of each of the prisoners, some of them in tears, before drying them off with a towel and kissing them.

“We all have small failures, big failures,” said the Pope in an impromptu homily during a mass held in the courtyard of the prison that holds some 370 women.

“But the Lord is always waiting for us, with open arms, and he never tires of forgiving,” he added.

The washing of feet is “a gesture that draws our attention to the vocation of service”, said Francis, who as a priest in Buenos Aires had already begun visiting prisoners.


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