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Pope gives chocolate egg to boy who lives with imprisoned mother

Pope Francis at the Rebibbia prison for women in Rome where he performed the "Washing of the Feet" of inmates during a private visit as part of Holy Thursday

Photo by Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP

I.Media - published on 03/28/24

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper in a prison, as he often does. Despite the wheelchair, he was able to wash the feet of 12 inmates.

Repeating Christ’s gesture of washing his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, the 87-year-old Pontiff washed and kissed the feet of 12 female inmates at Rome’s Rebibbia prison on Holy Thursday, March 28, 2024.

A few weeks after his election in 2013, Pope Francis surprised many by celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a juvenile prison; however, it was a practice he had adopted when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Now as Bishop of Rome, he has repeated the gesture frequently in subsequent years, visiting other prisons, including another section of the Rebibbia in 2015.

Pope Francis at the Rebibbia prison for women in Rome where he performed the "Washing of the Feet" of inmates during a private visit as part of Holy Thursday

Nine years later, he decided to return to the prison. He celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the courtyard of the women’s section in front of almost 200 people – an event exceptionally broadcast live by Vatican media.

See a highlight video below.

Inmates, administrative staff, guards, and volunteers working in the prison – including priests and nuns – attended the celebration.

It was presided over by the Pope, but, as has usually been the case in recent months due to his reduced mobility, the Eucharistic prayer was prayed by a third party – this time the master of liturgical celebrations, Monsignor Diego Ravelli.

The Lord never tires of forgiving

“All of us always experience small and great failures, each with his or her own story,” the Pontiff reflected in a brief improvised homily. “But the Lord always awaits us with open arms and never tires of forgiving.”

He urged everyone to discover their “vocation to service.”

Despite his wheelchair, Pope Francis was able to proceed with the traditional washing of the feet thanks to the installation of a small platform on which the 12 chosen prisoners were seated. After pouring water over their feet, he dried them with a towel before kissing them, bringing tears of emotion to the eyes of some of the inmates.

Pope Francis at the Rebibbia prison for women in Rome where he performed the "Washing of the Feet" of inmates during a private visit as part of Holy Thursday

Rosaries and Easter eggs

“Your presence is a ray of sunshine for each of them,” said Nadia Fontana, director of the facility, to the Pontiff at the end of the Mass.

The inmates presented the Pope with a basket of fruit and vegetables grown in the prison garden, as well as a Rosary and two stoles made by some of them.

Pope Francis then presented the prison’s 360 inmates with a painting of the Virgin Mary and Child, and a large Easter egg. He then gave another chocolate egg to a three-year-old boy who lives with his incarcerated mother in the prison. (Seen at the end of the video above.)

Pope Francis at the Rebibbia prison for women in Rome where he performed the "Washing of the Feet" of inmates during a private visit as part of Holy Thursday

Before leaving, the Pontiff greeted numerous inmates and prison staff, offering them rosaries.

Tomorrow, March 29, Pope Francis will celebrate the Office of the Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica. He is then expected at the Colosseum at 9:15 pm for the celebration of the Stations of the Cross. He himself wrote the meditations this year.

Tags:
Holy WeekPope FrancisWomen
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