Pope Francis arrived on Holy Thursday to the Casa Circondariale Nuovo Complesso Rebibbia, a prison in Rome to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
The Holy Father was greeted by faithful, authorities and a group of prisoners who emotionally embraced him. One prisoner, holding a sign, asked the Pope to bless the image of a deceased loved one. Once blessed, the man tearfully hugged and kissed Pope Francis.
The Mass was held in the prison’s “Our Father” Church. As the Holy Father entered, the prisoners were unable to contain their excitement and applauded as the Pope entered in procession.
In his homily, the 78 year old Pontiff reflected on a passage from John’s Gospel which he said was at the heart of Jesus’ life and death: “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. (Jn. 13,2).
“Jesus loves us,” he said, “without limits, always to the end. The love of Jesus for us has no limits, it is always more. He never tires of loving anyone. He loves all of us to the point of giving His life.”
“The love of Jesus never deceives because he never tires of loving, as He also never tires of forgiving, He never tires of embracing us. This is the first thing I wanted to tell you: Jesus loved each one of you ‘to the end.'”
Regarding Jesus’ act of washing the feet of the disciples, the Holy Father noted that the disciples did not understand His gesture, a custom that is usually the work of slaves. In order to serve, heal and clean us, he stressed, Jesus made Himself a slave.
“In our hearts, we must have the certainty, we must be sure that the Lord, when he washes our feet, He washes everything, He purifies us! He makes us feel once again His love,” he said.
Before proceeding to the Rite of the Washing of the Feet, Pope Francis said that the 12 male and female inmates represented all of those who were incarcerated in the Roman prison.
However, he also stressed that like them, he needed to be ‘cleaned by the Lord. as well.’
“And for this, pray during this Mass so that the Lord may also clean my filth, so that I may become more your slave, more of a slave in the service of people, as Jesus was,” he said.
The Pope proceeded to wash the feet of the inmates, the majority of whom could not contain their emotion at their feet being washed by the Successor of Saint Peter.
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On ZENIT’s website:
For the full text of the Pope’s homily, go to: