Pope Francis Washes Young Inmates' Feet

Symbolic act normally performed on lay people at basilica
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2013 1:56 PM CDT
Pope Francis Washes Young Inmates' Feet
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis washes the foot of an inmate at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo, Rome.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)

Pope Francis took yet another step to burnish his "humble pope" image today, washing the feet of 12 prisoners at a youth detention center near Rome. While it's traditional for the pope to wash some feet on Maundy Thursday in a symbolic recreation of Jesus doing the same for his disciples during the Last Supper, it's usually done for lay people at one of Rome's basilicas, the BBC reports.

"We need to go out ... to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters," Francis said in his homily, before about 10 girls and 40 boys. A prison chaplain says some of the inmates had volunteered for the foot wash, while others had to be coaxed. "But all of them are very happy," he told CNA yesterday, predicting that the visit would "make them see that their lives are not bound by a mistake." (Read more Pope Francis stories.)

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