Pope Francis washes the feet of inmates at women’s prison in Rome

March 29, 2024 - 11:27 AM
ope Francis washes the feet of 12 women at the Rebibbia Women’s Prison in Rome on Holy Thursday, March 28, 2024 (Vatican Media via CBCP News)

ROME— Pope Francis on Thursday washed the feet of 12 prisoners at a prison facility in Rome, with the pontiff continuing a regular tradition of holding the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at local penitentiaries.

The Holy Father told female inmates at the Rebibbia correctional facility, located about six miles from Vatican City, that Jesus “never tires of forgiving” but rather “we are the ones who get tired of asking for forgiveness.”

“We all have our small or big failures — everyone has their own story. But the Lord always awaits us, with his arms open, and never tires of forgiving,” the Holy Father said, according to Vatican News.

The pope during the Mass washed the feet of 12 of the female prisoners present. The dozen inmates were of “different nationalities,” the Vatican said.

The pope subsequently “met with the inmates and staff of the penitentiary” and received several gifts including products from the prison complex’s farm.

In years past, Francis has traveled to prisons and other facilities in and around Rome to wash the feet of marginalized individuals.

In 2023 he washed the feet of 12 young men and women at the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center on Rome’s outskirts.

Francis instituted the custom shortly after the start of his papacy. After visiting the Casal del Marmo youth detention center in 2013, he presided at Holy Thursday Masses at a center for the disabled in 2014, the Rebibbia New Complex Prison in 2015, a center for asylum seekers in 2016, Paliano prison in 2017, Rome’s historic Regina Coeli prison in 2018, and Velletri men’s prison in 2019.

The Holy Father skipped the tradition in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.