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Pope will celebrate Holy Thursday in a women’s prison

Pope Francis kissing the feet of a young offender after washing them during a mass at the church of the Casal del Marmo youth prison

OSSERVATORE ROMANO / AFP

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I.Media - published on 03/07/24

As he has since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Thursday with those who are imprisoned.

On March 28, 2024, Pope Francis will visit the women’s section of the Rebibbia prison complex in Rome to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Apostolic Prefecture announced on March 13. The Pontiff will meet inmates and staff members of this prison, which he also visited in 2015.

Since the beginning of his pontificate, the Pope has celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper every Holy Thursday with people who are disadvantaged or at the margins of society. In 2015, he visited the Rebibbia prison and washed the feet of several inmates, including a transsexual person, as part of the traditional rite for this feast.

The Pontiff is expected at 4 pm in this prison that lies northeast of Rome, where he will celebrate Mass with no live broadcast expected. In the morning, he will celebrate the Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Pope Francis’ tradition

This Holy Thursday rite replicates the gesture performed by Jesus, who washed the feet of his disciples during his final meal.

In 2016, the Pope asked the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to clarify the rite of foot washing, which until then was stipulated for men, even if this was already not the practice in many places. Having himself previously broken this rule, the Pontiff decided to allow all priests to wash all members of the “People of God,” regardless of their gender.

On Holy Thursday in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pope pronounced a homily in support of the prisoners at Rebibbia after a revolt broke out in the prison. The Pontiff called on the Italian government to combat prison overcrowding. In 2021, he received a group of inmates from the prison. After their meeting with Francis, the prisoners were able to visit the Vatican Museums.

The Pope has made numerous visits to other prisons in Rome and the Lazio region (Regina Coeli, Casal del Marmo, Paliano, Velletri and Civitavecchia) for the Holy Thursday mass.

He also visited a center for the disabled in 2014 and a refugee center in 2016. In 2021, the Pope caused a surprise by commemorating the Lord’s Supper at Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s home. A few months earlier in September 2020 Francis had accepted Becciu’s resignation of his rights as cardinal and his position in the Vatican due to his involvement in the so-called “London building” affair. 

Tags:
Holy WeekPope FrancisRome
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