The pope also officially decreed that women — previously barred from the ceremony — would now be included.
Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 refugees Thursday at a migrant center in Castelnuovo di Porto outside of Rome, Italy. The ceremony took place as part of the observances of Maundy Thursday, the Holy Thursday before Easter that dates back to the story of Jesus’ Last Supper.
In a powerful gesture of interfaith embrace, the pontiff knelt down before a group of eight men and four women, among whom were Muslims, Coptic Christians and one Hindu.
“All of us together: Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals … all brothers and children of the same God,” the pontiff said during a Mass before the foot washing ceremony. “We want to live together in peace.”
In previous years, Francis has observed Maundy Thursday by washing the feet of prisoners, the elderly and people with disabilities. Shortly after his election as pope in 2013, the pontiff made waves by including women in his foot washing ceremony at a juvenile detention center.
This year, Francis officially decreed that women would be included in the ceremony from here on out.
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