Pope of the poor kneels to wash the feet of the disabled

Pope of the poor kneels to wash the feet of the disabled | The Times

Pope of the poor kneels to wash the feet of the disabled | The Times

Pope Francis swabbed and kissed the feet of patients

James Bone Rome
Published at 12:01AM, April 18 2014

Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 residents of a disabled home on the outskirts of Rome yesterday, one of them a wheelchair- bound African teenager.

Kneeling, the Pope swabbed and kissed the feet of patients stricken with paralysis and neurological disorders at the Don Gnocchi centre; a traditional Easter ritual, which recalls the actions of Jesus when he washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.

Yesterday’s group of 12 included Oswaldinho, 16, from Cape Verde, who was paralysed in a diving accident last summer, and one Muslim, a 75-year-old man called Hamed. Originally from Libya, he suffered serious neurological impairment in a traffic accident.

Francis did not, however, repeat his controversial gesture of last year of kissing the feet of a young Muslim woman at a nearby youth detention centre.

Furio Gramatica, a research scientist at the foundation, said the Pope’s visit was “too fantastic to be true”. He added: “Concerning our guests, one might guess that most of them cannot fully catch the meaning of this visit, but this is definitely not true, even for the most critical cases. Our guests all develop a clear ‘sixth sense’ on how much they are loved.”

Earlier, Francis added a personal touch to his mass at St Peter’s Basilica for Maundy Thursday. Encouraging Christians to feel

the joy of Jesus, he admitted he too had suffered “gloomy moments when everything looks dark” and “moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us”.

The man dubbed “Pope of the poor” argued that being a priest was inextricably linked to poverty. “The priest is poor in terms of purely human joy. He has given up so much. And because he is poor, he, who gives so much to others, has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people,” he said.

After the Easter weekend, the Vatican will prepare for the rare double-canonisation of two popes — John Paul II and John XXIII — on April 27.


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