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holy thursday

Pope Francis was pictured lying on the floor during Good Friday service in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

Presiding over his first Easter week as pope, Pope Francis lay prostrate, praying to God before the famous church’s alter atop a rug with his arms resting on a pillow.

The position of worship was adopted as he led the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis will later lead a candlelit procession around the Colosseum as part of the Way of the Cross ceremony.

Pope Francis lying on the floor during Good Friday service in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican

Pope Francis lying on the floor during Good Friday service in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican

The symbolic walk around one of Rome’s most well-known landmarks, commemorates Jesus’s final walk through the streets of Jerusalem while carrying the cross.

After being elected as pontiff following a secret conclave in the Vatican City earlier this month, Pope Francis has garnered attention for his humility and willingness to break from tradition.

Yesterday, on Maundy Thursday, the Pope visited a prison to wash and kiss the feet of convicted criminals.

The pontiff held a major Easter Week service at Casal del Marmo young offenders’ prison in Rome – the first Holy Thursday service outside St Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

Speaking to 50 inmates, he said: ‘I’m happy to be with you. Don’t give up hope.’

The foot washing on Maundy Thursday echoes a New Testament passage in which Jesus honors his 12 disciples before his Crucifixion.

Pope Francis has carried out similar ceremonies in Argentinean jails.

In a first for a Pope, he also attended to the feet of two woman prisoners. Several of the 12 were also Muslim.

Pope Francis already has officials on the back foot with his lack of regard for protocol.

He has insisted he will not live in the lavish Papal apartment, a 12-room property on the top floor of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

On seeing the apartment, Pope Francis said: “But there is room for 300 people in here.”

Instead, Pope Francis has chosen a modest two-bedroom hotel-style residence at the Domus Santa Marta building.

The newly-elected Pope has also signaled that he wants to lead the church in a direction that priorizes care for the most disadvantaged in society.

At a mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Maundy Thursday, Pope Francis told priests: “We need to go out… to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.”

Those who do not, the Pope said, “become merely dealers in antiques and collectibles, instead of pastors, ending up dissatisfied and sad”.

His first papal Holy Week will culminate with an Easter Sunday “Urbi et Orbi” – an address to the City of Rome and the world.

Thousands of Catholics are expected to flock to St. Peter’s Square for the first Jesuit and South American pope’s address.

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Pope Francis has washed and kissed the feet of 12 detainees in a youth detention centre near Rome as part of the Maundy Thursday service.

The Christian ritual takes place on the Thursday before Easter to commemorate Christ’s Last Supper.

Thousands of pilgrims and tourists are arriving in Rome to attend ceremonies during the holy week ahead of Easter.

In a homily, Pope Francis earlier urged priests to do less “soul-searching” and engage more with parishioners.

“It is not in soul-searching… that we encounter the Lord,” the Pope told hundreds of cardinals, priests and bishops in St Peter’s Basilica.

“We need to go out… to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.”

Worshippers should “leave Mass looking as if they had heard good news”, he added.

Foot washing replicates the Bible's account of Jesus Christ's gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified

Foot washing replicates the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified

During Thursday’s intimate service, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 young detainees to replicate the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified.

The 12 prisoners included two girls, one Italian Catholic and one of Serbian Muslim origin, local prison ombudsman Angiolo Marroni said ahead of the ceremony.

Some of the prisoners volunteered to have their feet washed, while others were given an invitation to help them overcome their embarrassment, the Catholic News Agency quoted the prison chaplain as saying.

In total, around 10 girls and 40 boys from different nationalities and diverse religious confessions were taking part in Thursday’s Mass at Casal del Marmo on the outskirts of Rome.

The newly-elected Pope has brought a new sense of simplicity to the Vatican.

He has broken with tradition for the foot-washing ceremony, which is normally performed on lay people in one of Rome’s basilicas.

Pope Benedict XVI visited the centre in 2007, but not for the Holy Thursday Mass. Only for the first two years of his pontificate did he perform the feet-washing himself, after which the task was delegated to priests.

Easter is the most important festival in the calendar of the Catholic Church.

On Good Friday evening the Pope will carry a wooden cross and pray at a ceremony at Rome’s ancient amphitheatre, the Colosseum, commemorating Jesus’ crucifixion.

On Saturday evening Pope Francis will celebrate the main Easter Vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

And on Easter Sunday morning, Pope Francis will deliver his first “Urbi et Orbi” message to the city of Rome and to the world.

During his inaugural general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis called for an immediate political solution to the conflict in the Central African Republic after last weekend’s coup.

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Pope Francis will wash the feet of prisoners in a youth detention centre in Rome while he will celebrate Mass on Holy Thursday, the Vatican has said.

The Vatican says the pontiff is continuing a pre-Easter practice that began when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Normally feet-washing Masses before Easter are held in the Vatican or a Rome basilica.

However, Pope Benedict XVI held a feet-washing Mass at the same Casal del Marmo youth detention centre in Rome in 2007.

Pope Francis will stage his feet-washing ceremony at Casal del Marmo on the afternoon of March 28.

The washing of feet on the Thursday before Easter is a Christian tradition dating back to the time of Christ.

Pope Francis will wash the feet of prisoners in a youth detention centre in Rome while he will celebrate Mass on Holy Thursday

Pope Francis will wash the feet of prisoners in a youth detention centre in Rome while he will celebrate Mass on Holy Thursday

During the service, the pontiff washes and kisses the feet of 12 people to replicate the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified.

“With this celebration at Casal del Marmo, Pope Francis will continue this custom, which is characterized by its humble context,” a statement by the Vatican said.

It said that Pope Francis would also celebrate Mass earlier on Holy Thursday in St Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis has called for the Roman Catholic Church to be closer to ordinary people, especially the poor and disadvantaged.

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