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Pope Francis washes and kisses the feet of inmates in an Italian prison

The predecessors of Pope Francis performed this ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Peter’s Cathedral or another major church in Rome. But since being elected to the highest position of the Catholic Holy See, Pope Francis has chosen to perform this ceremony in prisons or nursing homes.

This year, Pope Francis visited a prison in Civitavecchia, a port city on the Mediterranean coast north of Rome.

A video sent by the Vatican shows the Pope washing and kissing the feet of 12 male and female prisoners of various ages.

“We priests should be the first to serve others, not exploit. I don’t judge anyone. I just try to serve people,” Pope Francis told the prisoners.

He told them that God would judge them, but was also ready to forgive them.

In the past 2 years, the washing and kissing ceremony has only been held on a small scale in the Vatican to avoid the COVID-19 epidemic.

This visit to the prison is the second ceremony the Pope has performed in preparation for Easter.

Easter (April 17) is an important holiday in the Catholic calendar. This year, Pope Francis performed a vigil and blessing on St. Peter. He will read the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message twice a year.

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