Pope Francis Washes Feet of Inmate

Published 03/28 2013 02:58PM

Updated 03/28 2013 03:01PM

ROME - Since he was elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has proved many times over that he wants to break away from clerical privilege, come down from St. Peter's throne and act as a humble servant of the faithful.

And on Holy Thursday he reinforced the idea that he will champion social outcasts and the poor by washing the feet of a dozen young inmates in a juvenile detention center.

The washing of feet is an important religious rite on Holy Thursday -- the day Christianity celebrates Jesus' Last Supper ahead of his crucifixion -- as it re-enacts Christ's humble gesture toward his disciples before the meal.

He washed their feet to show that "no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him," according to Gospel of St. John 13:16.  

But while in the past Francis' predecessors washed the feet of priests in the Basilica of St. John in Lateran -- the most important of the four major basilicas in Rome -- Francis chose to kneel down before young offenders at the Casal del Marmo Penitentiary Institute for Minors.  

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