Pope Francis to wash juvenile prisoners’ feet this Holy Thursday

Pope Francis washes inmates’ feet at Rome’s Regina Coeli Prison on Holy Thursday, March 29, 2018. Pope Francis washes inmates’ feet at Rome’s Regina Coeli Prison on Holy Thursday, March 29, 2018. | Vatican Media.

Less than a week after being released from Gemelli Hospital, where he was being treated for bronchitis, Pope Francis will preside over Holy Thursday Mass at Casal del Marmo juvenile prison and wash the feet of inmates.

World leaders and the faithful across the globe grew worried for the pope after he was suddenly hospitalized last Wednesday with breathing difficulties.

He was discharged from the hospital Saturday after a three-night stay, quipping to reporters outside the hospital that he was “still alive!”

After returning to the Vatican, Francis presided over Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square. In his homily, he spoke in a soft voice as he emphasized that whatever situation of abandonment we find ourselves in, Jesus is at our side.

During his pontificate — and his bishopric before that — Francis has made it a regular tradition to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass with the imprisoned. 

Casal del Marmo prison was the first place Francis celebrated Holy Thursday Mass as pope just 15 days after being elected the bishop of Rome in 2013. 

On the outskirts of Rome, only about 11 miles from Vatican City, Casal del Marmo is a juvenile detention center that holds young male and female inmates. 

In 2013, Francis washed 12 young prisoners’ feet — those of two girls and 10 boys. 

“This is a symbol, it is a sign — washing your feet means I am at your service,” Francis told the youth attending the Mass in 2013. “And we are [servants], too, among each other, but we don’t have to wash each other’s feet each day. So, what does this mean? That we have to help each other.”

In 2022, the pope offered Holy Thursday Mass at a prison in Civitavecchia, a port city about 50 miles northwest of Rome.

Despite last week’s sickness and hospitalization, Francis is scheduled to preside over an intense schedule of Holy Week liturgies and services

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