Is Francis Signaling Women’s Ordination in Foot Washing Ceremony?

Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 women inmates at a Roman prison Thursday evening, the first time any pope included no men in the Holy Thursday ritual.

The Church’s practice of washing the feet of 12 people is intended as a commemoration of the moment at the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of the 12 apostles before commissioning them as priests to celebrate the Eucharist, according to Catholic belief.

On Thursday the pontiff traveled to Rome’s Rebibbia women’s prison where, seated in a wheelchair, he washed and kissed the feet of 12 female inmates, many of whom wept with emotion.

In his homily to the inmates and prison staff, the pope said that in washing his apostles’ feet, Jesus humbled himself, making us understand the depth of his words “The son of man has not come to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45).

Pope Francis was the first pope to include women in the ritual.

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