08 April 2014, The Tablet

Pope to wash feet of disabled and elderly at Maundy Thursday Mass

Pope Francis will wash the feet of 12 disabled and elderly people when he celebrates Mass on Maundy Thursday evening, the Vatican announced today.

He will preside over the Mass and foot-washing ritual at the Father Carlo Gnocchi Foundation's Our Lady of Providence Centre, a rehabilitation and care centre on the outskirts of Rome for people with disabilities and the elderly.

Last year, the newly elected Pope broke with tradition and washed the feet of young offenders – including a Muslim woman – in Rome's Casal del Marmo centre. Previously popes conducted the liturgy in St John Lateran or St Peter’s Basilica.

The Vatican said that patients, their relatives and the facility's staff and directors would take part in the private Mass and ceremony, which will take place at 5.30 local time.

Before he was elected pope, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would celebrate the Maundy Thursday liturgy in prisons, hospitals or shelters for the homeless in Buenos Aires.

On Holy Thursday morning the Pope will celebrate the traditional chrism Mass in St Peter's Basilica as is customary and bless the oils used for sacraments in the Diocese of Rome.

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