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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis to prisoners on Holy Thursday: our heart must have this love to serve others

Pope Francis spent Holy Thursday at all-male Velletri prison, 30 miles from Rome. He celebrated the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper while there, and spoke to the prisoners about a very important theme: serving.

“It's true that in life, there are problems. We fight amongst ourselves. But this must be something of the past. It must be something will pass, because in our heart, there must always be this love to serve others.”

The pope told them the most important and powerful should always seek to help the smallest and weakest, just as Jesus did while on Earth. 

“When one arrived at a house, or a visit to eat lunch, there were slaves who washed peoples' feet. Jesus did this gesture. He washed the feet. He did a gesture for slaves. He, who had all the power. He, who was the Lord, did this gesture like a slave. Then he tells everyone, do this to one another. This means serve one another.”

Pope Francis shared that the apostles also fought amongst themselves for who was the most important. It is something that can still be seen today. 

“Bishops are not the most important. Bishops should be the biggest servants. Everyone of us must serve everyone else. This is law of Jesus, the law of the Gospel, the law of service. Not to dominate, to do evil, to humiliate others. Service.”

Pope Francis then proceeded to demonstrate this act while washing the feet of 12 male prisoners. He kissed each foot and shook the hand of those he encountered. The men were from four countries: nine are Italian, one is Brazilian, one is from the Ivory Coast and one is from Morocco.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis received various gifts from the prison, including a cross, some baskets of goodies, books, flowers and various other tokens of gratitude for his visit. 

As Pope Francis left, an enormous applause erupted with a shout “Viva il Papa!”