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Holy Thursday: Pope washes the feet of 12 inmates, 1 infant

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2015 | 12:44 PMAP

Pope Francis has washed the feet of 12 inmates and a baby at Rome's main prison in a pre-Easter ritual meant to show his willingness to serve others.

As the inmates wept, Francis knelt down, poured water from a pitcher onto each foot, dried it and then kissed it, re-enacting the ritual that Jesus performed on his apostles before he was crucified.

The inmates included six men from Rebibbia prison and six women from the nearby women's prison. One was a mother carrying her son on her lap: Francis washed his little foot as well.

Francis has revolutionised the Holy Thursday foot-washing ceremony by performing it on women and non-Catholics and by travelling to detention centres and facilities for the sick.

Vatican rules say the ritual should be performed on men, given that Jesus' apostles were male.