Pope Francis I hasn’t even been Pope for a month, but he has already made a reputation for himself as preferring to abandon exclusive papal trappings and traditions in favor of mingling with the crowd. For a Holy Thursday ritual related to the celebration of Easter, Pope Francis went to the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center in Rome. The center houses 46 young men and women, many of whom are Gypsies or North African migrants. In a tradition that is meant to imitate the actions of Jesus, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 of the detainees meant to represent the 12 apostles of Jesus. Among the 12 were two women and two Muslims.
“This is a symbol, it is a sign -washing your feet means I am at your service,” Francis told the youths. “Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service.”
“Don’t lose hope,” he said to them after the Mass. “Understand? With hope you can always go on.”