And even the foot of one toddler
ROME — In what has become known as a hallmark of his pastoral style, Pope Francis again celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at a Roman prison, where he washed the feet of 12 inmates, including men and women from Brazil, Congo, Ecuador, Italy and Nigeria. The inmates included one mother holding her small child — whose little foot the Pope also washed and kissed.
The Mass was celebrated in the chapel of Rome’s Rebibbia prison on the outskirts of Rome. Rebibbia is famed as the place where Pope St. John Paul II in 1983 visited his attempted assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, to forgive him. As providence would have it, this year Holy Thursday fell on the 10th anniversary of the death of Pope St. John Paul II.
In unprepared remarks to 300 inmates, Pope Francis reflected the beginning of St. John’s Passion narrative: “Having loved his own who were in the the world, he loved them to the end.”
“The first thing I wish to tell you, is that Jesus loves you ‘to the end’, Pope Francis said. “Jesus loved us, he loves us, without limits, to the end, to the point of giving his life for us, for each one of us.”
He continued: “In the Bible, there is a passage in the Prophet Isaiah which is so beautiful: can a mother forget her child? Even if a mother were to forget her child, I will never forget you’. This is the nature of God’s love for us.”
Before kneeling before the 12 detainees to wash their feet, Pope Francis made a request:
“Today,” he said, “I will wash the feet of 12 of you, but in these brothers and sisters you are all present: everyone, everyone. All those who live here. But I also need to be cleansed by the Lord, and so prayer during this Mass that the Lord wash my impurities, that I may become more of a servant to you, more of a servant in the service of the people, as Jesus was.”