Tuesday 21 November 2017

'Unpredictable Pope' moves Holy Week Mass to jail

Pope Francis has already been nicknamed the unpredictable pope
Pope Francis has already been nicknamed the unpredictable pope

Nick Squires Rome

POPE Francis, whose spontaneity has already earned him the nickname "the unpredictable Pope", will break with tradition again when he holds a major ceremony in a prison chapel rather than in St Peter's.

The Pope, who has broken the mould with his informal approach and unscheduled walkabouts, will conduct next week's Holy Thursday service in a prison for young offenders on the outskirts of Rome.

The service is normally held either in St Peter's Basilica or in the Church of St John in Lateran, which is the Pope's church in his capacity as Bishop of Rome.

Instead Francis, who was the archbishop of Buenos Aires before being chosen as Pope in a secret conclave last week, will hold the service in the Casal del Marmo jail.

There he is expected to wash and kiss the feet of 12 inmates, in a gesture that commemorates Jesus's humility towards his disciples before the Last Supper, on the night before he was crucified.

Surprised

His decision has surprised Vatican officials but is very much in keeping with his past in Argentina, where he washed the feet of Aids sufferers and met street prostitutes.

He often held Mass in old people's homes, jails and hospitals, travelled to work by bus and eschewed a grand residence in favour of a small apartment.

Francis will have his first meeting with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict, tomorrow.

The 76-year-old Argentine will be flown from the Vatican by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, a centuries-old castle in the hills south of Rome where the Pope Emeritus has been staying since his historic resignation on February 28.

The pair, both wearing the white vestments of the papacy, will sit down for a meeting and then have lunch together before Francis flies back to the Vatican. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

David Quinn

Irish Independent

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