Pope Francis celebrated one of the most important ceremonies of the year surrounded by the sick. His Holy Thursday Mass took place at the St. Mary of Providence Center, for the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation.
When he arrived, he greeted the families, workers and patients of this center, which takes care of people with special needs, as well as the elderly and sick.
During his homily, he explained that in Jesus' times, slaves would wash the feet of their masters. He then added that when Jesus did the same for their disciples, he left them this tradition.
"We've listened to what Jesus said during the Last Supper: this gesture is a farewell. It is like a heritage he leaves us. He is God, and has made Himself servant, our servant. This is His heritage: you also must become servants of each other.”
The Pope then asked everyone to compare this action to the personal attitude we have whens serving others.
"I will now wash their feet, but we all, in our hearts, let's think about others and about the love Jesus says we must have for others. Let's think also about how we can serve better other people. Because that's what Jesus wanted of us.”
After his words, the Pope washed the feet of 12 disabled and elderly people, just like Jesus did with His apostles. Their ages ranged from 16 to the 86. One of them was Muslim. He's named Hamed and was born in Libya 75 years ago.
Even though he had some trouble getting up, Pope Francis knelt before them, washed and carefully kissed the feet of each of the patients from the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation.
This Italian organization has 39 centers all around Italy, and also works in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Ecuador and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they look after children with disabilities and deformations.
Last year, the Pope visited a juvenile detention center in Rome. He then washed the feet of 12 jailed teens. Among them was a Muslim girl.
As cardinal in Buenos Aires, he used to spend the Holy Thursday surrounded by the sick, poor and marginalized. Now, he does the same in Rome: he chooses to stay close to those in the "existential outskirts.”