Photo: Pope Francis washes the foot of a prison inmate during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison for minors March 28. Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 young people of different nationalities and faiths, including at least two Muslims and two women, who are housed at the juvenile detention facility. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

By David Uebbing

Vatican City(CNA/EWTN News) – Pope Francis recalled for around 40 young detainees how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and said that he would willingly do the same for them because he is called to serve.

“It is the example set by Our Lord, it’s important for Him to wash their feet, because among us the one who is highest up must be at the service of others,” the Pope said, recounted Jesus response to Peter’s refusal for the youths.

“This is a symbol, it is a sign – washing your feet means I am at your service. And we are (servants) too, among each other, but we don’t have to wash each other’s feet each day. So what does this mean? That we have to help each other,” Pope Francis explained March 28 at Casal del Marmo youth detention facility.

The Pope also offered a heartfelt explanation for why he was washing the feet of the young prisoners.

“This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service.

“But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love. I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me,” he said.

The Pope encouraged the youths to become more self-giving and helpful. “And thus,” he added, “in helping each other we will do good for each other.”

Just before performing the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet, Pope Francis told the youths to ask themselves ‘Am I really willing to help others?’

“Think that this sign is Christ’s caress, because Jesus came just for this, to serve us, to help us,” he concluded.

After Communion, the Pope moved the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose and spent some time adoring Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Pope made the decision to visit the youth detention facility after he was invited by Italy’s Justice Minister Paola Severino.

It is also in keeping with his ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, where he would celebrate Holy Thursday Mass with the poor and sick.

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