The Vatican today released more information about Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday mass to be celebrated in the chapel of a youth prison in Rome.
Francis asked that it be a simple celebration. Some 10 girls and 40 boys will take part in the mass during which the pope will wash the feet of 12 of them, chosen from different nationalities and diverse religious groups. The youth men and women will do the readings and the prayers of the faithful.
The local chaplain told the L’Osservatore Romano he was somewhat perplexed, at least at the start, “because only eight of the residents are Italian: six boys and two girls. The others are all foreigners. And most of them are Muslim. Then there are some who have no religious belief at all. Therefore many of them don't even know who the Pope is. For this reason too, it was far from easy to explain to them the importance of the Pope's visit”.
After the mass Francis will meet with the youth in the institute's gym. The inmates will give the pope a wooden crucifix and kneeler, which they made in the institute's workshop. Francis will bring Easter eggs and “colomba” (the traditional Italian Easter cake in the shape of a dove) for all to share.
Given the intimate nature of the visit, journalists will be restricted to the area outside the building.
Fox is NCR publisher. Follow him on Twitter @NCRTomFox