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Pope to wash feet of young prisoners on Holy Thursday

By on Thursday, 21 March 2013

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washes and kisses the feet of residents of a shelter for drug users during Holy Thursday Mass in 2008

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washes and kisses the feet of residents of a shelter for drug users during Holy Thursday Mass in 2008

Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass at the juvenile prison Casal del Marmo in Rome, at 5.30pm local time.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, celebrated on Maundy Thursday, commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, and features the rite of the washing of the feet.

Pope Benedict XVI also visited the Casal del Marmo young offenders’ institute in 2007.

While it has been traditional for popes to celebrate this Mass at the Basilica of St John Lateran or St Peter’s Basilica, in his ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would celebrate Mass on Maundy Thursday in a prison, hospital or hospice for poor and marginalised people.

The Casal del Marmo institute trains inmates for employment in carpentry, tailoring and cooking, as well as other trades.

Prior to celebrating the Holy Thursday Mass at the Casal del Marmo young offenders’ institute, the Pope will be celebrating the Chrism Mass for the diocese of Rome at 9.30am in St Peter’s basilica.

The other Holy Week celebrations are expected to follow the schedule already released by the Office for Liturgical Celebrations, with both the liturgical service on Good Friday and Mass on Holy Saturday being celebrated in St Peter’s basilica, and on Easter Sunday in St Peter’s square.

  • Peter

    What Mass on Good Friday?

  • Pablo

    Correct, what mass? There is no mass on Good Friday.

  • teigitur

    The Mass of the pre-sanctified.

  • The Catholic Herald

    Done! However, at the time of writing this is from the Vatican website ( )
    29 Good Friday
    Vatican Basilica, at 17:00
    Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

    (Editorial Assistant)

  • Guest

    I think it’s wonderful that Pope Francis is emphasizing right from the beginning of his pontiff the afflicted, the poor, & the helpless (Didn’t all the good popes do the same thing?). I also think it’s great that he is going out of his way to find these persons, praying the Mass with them & administering to their needs as St Francis of Assisi did. Francis I did this in Argentina as priest, bishop & cardinal & it seems he will continue to do this as pope.

    Yet, his parishioners are from the entire world. They are not only the physically poor & afflicted but the spiritually poor too. IMHO I believe this current pope should tweak his MO, just a little. These liturgically important Masses which includes Holy Thursday Mass should be for everyone not just a few select whatever their circumstances in life are but should be shared with everyone via St Peter’s Square or Basilica in the most beautiful setting to worship God in keeping with our Judeo-Christian traditions.

    Otherwise I like what Francis I is doing so far!

  • Justsomecasualcomments

    It is beyond my imagination that co-workers at the Vatican could have made such a silly mistake, but they did!!!!!!!!!! Strange.

  • William Callaghan

    where it says Papal Mass, I think it is meant to say Papal Chapel – for the clergy who compose the Cappella Papale

  • Katrina

    It’s absolutely wonderful to see the Christian simplicity which Pope Francis radiates….I’m reminded of Morris West’s film, “The Shoes of The Fisherman’. If he were alive he’d be delighted to see this humble Servant of God. He’d probably make another film along the same lines. God bless and protect Pope Francis from the ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ within the Vatican walls.

  • Alban

    I have many friends from different parts of the Christian world and without exception they are all struck by the Christ-like humility of Pope Francis.

  • Jean

    Jeannine: the article says that he will be celebrating the Chrism Mass at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s basilica.

  • arcadius

    Unless it’s not a mistake and Francis is “simplifying” another aspect of the liturgy…

  • Cheechee

    If you would care to read the above article again carefully you will find it reads . . . . . .. . .

    “PRIOR to celebrating the Holy Thursday Mass at the Casal del Marmo young offenders’ institute, the Pope will be celebrating the Chrism Mass for the diocese of Rome at 9.30am in St Peter’s basilica.” The article then goes on to say. . . . . . . . “both the LITURGICAL SERVICE on Good Friday and Mass on Holy Saturday being celebrated in St Peter’s basilica, and on Easter Sunday in St Peter’s square.”

    There is no mention or inference that there is a Mass on Good Friday.

  • BTRM

    The Chrism Mass is always on the Wednesday before Maundy Thursday.

  • Jose J.

    He is againg sending a strong message on where the emphasis for catholics is now, after his reading of the signs of the times we live in.
    I think Francis is doing the right thing here. He very well knows that
    what he does locally in Rome is going to be seen around the world and
    the image and witnessing of this most christian action in remembrance of
    what Jesus did is more powerfull than anything he could differently. Also, he is the bishop of Rome and then setting the standard for bishops around the world.

  • rockirish

    I really think the Pope(s) should begin by washing the feet of the tens-of-thousands of sexual abuse victims. Who benefits from washing the feet of prisoners? Let’s address those who are really the guilty ones.

  • Jack

    It is very unbecoming of an authority like the Pope to behave like this. The example of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet is not valid here because Jesus was not responsible at that time for a human organization comprising 1 billion people. Let’s have some dignity in the office again. I can’t imagine Pope St. Gregory the Great (who sent Augustine of Canterbury to convert England) behaving in this undignified manner.

  • Anne

    The Holy Thursday Mass is one of the most holy nights of the year for Catholics where Jesus initiated the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood. When Jesus went to the upper room he washed the feet of His Disciples only. The Disciples represent all the Priests. I am very disappointed to see our Holy Father doing this as so much attention now focuses on the feet washing rather than on Christ and what He did for us on this night, which was to give us Himself in the Holy Eucharist and to establish the Priesthood.

  • Arul

    Pope Francis reflects the original intention of Jesus Christ the founder of the Church

  • Jon Brownridge

    If you think that you have lost track of what the Church stands for. Thank God for this Pope. The Holy Spirit is trying to tell us something by the election of Francis.

  • Hermione

    Rockirish: It’s a sad fact that the sexually abused will not have their feet washed by the Pope, however much he may even wish he could do it. We must never forget the hurt that was done to them down through the years. However, is there going to be a time when we thank God for all the heroic priests who lived and are living their vocation to the fullest on our behalf. There is study done on paedophilia by a non-catholic researcher and the Church has the lowest offending rates among any group, including other denominations and family members of abused people That is not a statistic that we should take pride in, one person abused is one too many but maybe we are moving into better times when everyone is aware of what has happened and put in place systems to avoid it happening again. I so want the Church to be renewed with the help of Pope Francis and let’s thank Pope Benedict for his humitlity in putting us in this position to have hope for the future within the Church.

  • Julie Mooney

    “Let’s have some dignity in the office again. I can’t imagine Pope St.
    Gregory the Great (who sent Augustine of Canterbury to convert England)
    behaving in this undignified manner.”
    You write let’s have some dignity in the office again, and for examples of lack of dignity you cite examples that are centuries old? Dignity has been restored to the papacy a long time ago; Pope Francis is continuing in that tradition.

  • Julie Mooney

    True faithful Catholics have never lost track of what the Church stands for. It’s “cino’s” (catholic in name only) and “cafeteria catholics” who have lost track.

  • Julie Mooney

    Who benefits? It’s blatantly obvious you were never a prisoner; and also blatantly obvious you could use a dose of humility yourself.

  • rockirish

    Try being an iinocent victim of a pedophile priest’s every desire. I will show you what “prison” is!

  • skeptical

    Sorry, I think this is very creepy and weird especially given the now known history of the church with abuse of young males.

  • Kevin

    I don’t like this photograph either.

    The Pope is innocent, but as you comment we know that problems of sexual immorality have involved the highest levels of the hierarchy. In these circumstances, a ritual that involves kissing the foot of a handsome young man could be seen as presenting for some a moment of temptation rather than humility. Furthermore, if a (hypothetical) young man feels inclined to recoil from such a gesture he would be well within his rights, and strongly advised, to do so.

    I think this was an ill-advised action that is out of keeping with contemporary culture. Had the picture involved the young woman to the Pope’s right it would have been deeply regrettable.

  • MarkWilliam

    It is precisely Jesus’ example which is ‘valid here’. Every Pope and every priest who washes feet is re-enacting what Jesus did. It was an unprecedented act in Jesus’ day to wash the feet of your guests, and today it is still against the social convention. Hence the power of the image. Jesus wants us to love and serve each other. He has not given us an example of how to be authoritative in office, but of how to use powerful office to love and serve those who are in need. There is dignity in service too.

  • Nesbyth

    Kevin, your comment is ridiculous. The washing of feet always happens on Maundy Thursday and there are no “sexual overtones”. If there is then it may be in the eye of the beholder such as yourself.

  • Amber Adkins


  • Chacko Panjikattil

    The Christian churches including Holy Catholic church are facing difficult times and testing times. There are lot of unreasonable demands and pressure and evil spiriit is trying to divert people from God,Religion and Churches. So many evil things are happening,through out the world. With his humble acts His Holiness Pope Francis I will lead the church in the right path and with his examples and pious acts will turn more people towards God from the clutches of Satan .
    I feel it is necessary that all christian churches to unite and face the difficult times boldly so that the faithful will feel more faithful in fulfilling the Gods Mission through out the world and bringing more peace on earth.
    If some church leaders are prepared to sacrifice their present positions for the welfare of the entire Christianity i t will not be impossible to bring unity among christian churches Let us pray to God Almighty for the same

  • J N

    This attitude is sad. The pope’s title is, after all, the Servant of the Servants of God. Authority? Least important. You should explore the concept of dignity, too.

    7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When
    someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor,
    for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If
    so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give
    this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the
    least important place. 10 But
    when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host
    comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you
    will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When
    you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your
    brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do,
    they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”