Pope to perform Holy Thursday foot-washing rite at Rome prison

Pope to perform Holy Thursday foot-washing rite at Rome prison

Pope to perform Holy Thursday foot-washing rite at Rome prison

Pope Francis washes the foot of an inmate during the Holy Thursday Mass at Casal del Marmo prison for minors in Rome in this March 28, 2013, file photo. (Credit: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano.)

Pope Francis will wash the feet of 12 inmates at Rome's central prison during a Holy Week ritual meant to show his willingness to serve others.

ROME — Pope Francis will wash the feet of 12 inmates at Rome’s central prison during a Holy Week ritual meant to show his willingness to serve others.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Francis will meet March 29 with inmates at the Regina Coeli prison, including those in the special “protected” wing where sexual predators are housed.

The prison is located near the Vatican, and is a former Carmelite convent. Francis is the fourth pope to visit Regina Coeli prison, after John XXIII in 1958, Paul VI in 1964, and John Paul II in 2000.

Francis has made the Holy Thursday ritual a hallmark of his papacy, part of his insistence that the Catholic Church must go to the margins of society to serve.

His decision five years ago to celebrate his first foot-washing ceremony at a Roman youth detention center raised eyebrows among conservatives after he washed the feet of women and Muslims.

Last year, the pontiff performed the ritual at the Paliano, a maximum-facility prison located south of Rome used to house mafia turncoats.

Crux staff contributed to this report.

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