ROME – In the six years that he’s sat on the Chair of Peter, images of Pope Francis have captivated the world with his tender paternal gestures and his continued defense of the poor, marginalized and those otherwise forgotten by society.

Images of the pontiff embracing the child, the migrant, the prisoner, the elderly and the disabled have tugged at the world’s heartstrings, from the beginning provoking a global examination of conscience and jolting the world’s attention to the most discarded members of society.

Arguably nothing has captured this tenderness quite like the pope’s Holy Thursday liturgies commemorating the night when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples before his arrest, which he’s chosen to spend at venues such as prisons, youth detention centers and migrant welcoming facilities.

It is in these places that Francis has sought to spark the “revolution of tenderness” of which he so often speaks, leaving many whose feet are washed weeping not so much because the pope has washed their feet, but because it is precisely in that gesture that they feel the embrace of Jesus Christ himself, who despite their struggles and their sins, has not forgotten them.

This year that tenderness will again be on display as Francis visits the Casa Circondariale di Velletri prison, where he will wash the feet of 12 inmates, located roughly 36 miles south of Rome.

However, while there are still no photos of this year’s foot-washing ceremony, Holy Week – the week leading up to the events of Jesus’ Passion and death before Easter – has taken on a special significance in the wake of the fire which on Monday ravaged Paris’s iconic Notre Dame cathedral, one of the most historic and beloved structures in France, leaving many Catholics grieved yet hopeful that like Christ’s desecrated and crucified body, this too will be made new.

As Francis initiates the activities commemorating Jesus’ trial, death and resurrection, here is a look back at some of his most striking Holy Thursday moments so far.



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. Francis will celebrate Mass March 29 at Rome’s Regina Coeli prison and wash the feet of 12 inmates. (Credit: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters.)



Pope Francis kisses the foot of a disabled person at Our Lady of Providence Center during Holy Thursday Mass in Rome April 17, 2014. (Credit: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters.)



Pope Francis washes the foot of a female inmate during the Holy Thursday Mass at Rebibbia prison in Rome in this April 2, 2015, file photo. (Credit: CNS photo/Reuters via L’Osservatore Romano.) Following a request by Francis, who has been a consistent advocate for the role of women in the Church, the Vatican issued a decree Jan. 21, 2016 specifying that the Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual can include women. Though the practice of washing women’s feet had become custom in many parishes, the decree made it formal.



Pope Francis kisses the foot of a refugee during Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Center for Asylum Seekers in Castelnuovo di Porto, north of Rome on 24 March. (Credit: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano.)



Inmates embrace as Pope Francis prays April 13, 2017 at Paliano prison outside of Rome. The pontiff celebrated Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and washed the feet of 12 inmates at the maximum-security prison. (Credit: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano.)



An inmate kisses the forehead of Pope Francis after the pontiff washed his feet during Holy Thursday Mass March 29 at Regina Coeli prison in Rome. The pope celebrated Mass and washed the feet of 12 inmates at the prison. (Credit: CNS photo/Vatican Media.)