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Pope Francis washing the feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday in Paliano, Italy, in 2017. Pope Francis washing the feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday in Paliano, Italy, in 2017. 

Pope's Holy Thursday liturgy in Rome’s Regina Coeli prison

Pope Francis' March 29 trip to Regina Coeli will include the rite of the washing of the feet, a visit to the sick and a meeting with detainees of the 8th Section.

By Robin Gomes

For the 4th time in his 5-year pontificate, Pope has chosen a prison for the Holy Thursday liturgy.  This year, the Holy Father will go to Rome’s best known prison, the “Regina Coeli”, in the evening of March 29, where he will celebrate the Mass of the Last Supper. It will include the washing of the feet of 12 inmates, in commemoration of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. 

Beside the Mass, he will also visit the sick inmates in the infirmary and meet some of the prisoners of the 8th Section. 

Since his election on March 13, 2013, the Pope has celebrated the Holy Thursday liturgy not in a Rome basilica, but in detention centres or old and sick people’s homes.

Fourth Holy Thursday prison visit

The first  Holy Thursday Mass of Pope Francis in a prison was soon after his election on March 13, 2013, when he visited the juvenile prison of Casal del Marmo.  In 2015, he celebrated it at Rome’s Rebibia prison and last year he made it to Frosinone’s Paliano prison, some 70 kms east of Rome.

In 2014, Pope Francis visited Rome’s “Don Gnocchi” center for the elderly and disabled, and in 2016, he visited the centre for asylum seekers at Castelnuovo di Porto, some 24 kilometers from north of Rome. 

Holy Thursday is part of the Easter Triduum or the final 3 days during the Holy Week that culminates into Easter, or the Resurrection of Jesus from death, the most solemn feast of Christians.

In all of these Holy Thursday liturgies, Pope Francis has chosen to wash the feet of also women and non-Christians.

20 March 2018, 16:23