April 24, 2024

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Pope Francis breaks tradition in an annual ritual of washing only women's feet

Pope Francis breaks tradition in an annual ritual of washing only women's feet


On Thursday, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 women in a Rome prison during a ceremony emphasizing modesty. This is the first time that the Pope has washed only women's feet during the special annual service.

The 87-year-old pope, who has recently suffered from health and mobility difficulties, led the ceremony at Rome's Rebibbia prison. He washed each of the women's feet from his wheelchair, many of them crying as he did so.

The foot washing ritual takes place on the Thursday before Easter and seeks to imitate Jesus Christ washing the feet of his disciples the night before his death.

Since his election, the Pope has taken this celebration outside the Vatican grounds and celebrated it by washing the feet of prisoners, refugees, and the disabled.

Over the years, Francis has washed the feet of women and Muslims, but this is the first time he has participated in a women-only foot-washing ceremony.

In the early years of his papacy, the pope changed church rules to officially include women in the ceremony, a move that was met with resistance in the Vatican.

His predecessor, Benedict

Pope Francis unexpectedly skipped delivering his homily during Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican last week, although he was able to preside over the service and was later transported in the papal car.

The service marked the start of Holy Week, the holiest week in the church calendar as Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Easter, and his decision to skip a sermon or meditation came as a surprise.

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In recent weeks, the Pope asked his aides to read many of his speeches after suffering from ill health. On February 28, he was admitted to the hospital for tests. During the winter months, Francis suffered from bouts of bronchitis, colds, and influenza.