Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on Thursday next week by washing the feet of prisoners in a youth detention centre in Rome, the Vatican has said.
It says the Pontiff is continuing a pre-Easter practice that began when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Normally feet-washing Masses before Easter are held in the Vatican or a Rome basilica. But Pope Benedict held a feet-washing Mass at the same Casal del Marmo youth detention centre in Rome in 2007.
Pope Francis will stage his feet-washing ceremony at Casal del Marmo on the afternoon of March 28.The washing of feet on the Thursday before Easter is a Christian tradition dating back to the time of Christ.
During the service, the Pope washes and kisses the feet of 12 people to replicate the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified.
“With this celebration at Casal del Marmo, Pope Francis will continue this custom, which is characterised by its humble context,” a statement by the Vatican said.
It said that Pope Francis would also celebrate Mass earlier on Holy Thursday in St Peter’s Basilica.The new Pontiff, the first from Latin America, has called for the Roman Catholic Church to be closer to ordinary people, especially the poor and disadvantaged.
Pope Francis to meet Benedict XVI
Pope Francis will have his first meeting with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, on Saturday. The 76-year-old Argentininian will be flown from the Vatican by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo where the Pope Emeritus has been staying since his historic resignation on Feb 28. The pair, both wearing the white vestments of the papacy, will sit down for a meeting and then have lunch.
Messi proud of new Pope
Reigning world footballer of the year Lionel Messi on Thursday admitted his pride at hearing that the new Pope was from his home country Argentina. “It is a source of pride for all Argentines that the Pope is from here,” said Messi, the captain of the Argentine national team, at a press conference on the eve of his country’s World Cup qualifier against Venezuela.
“Obviously I would like to meet him,” he added.