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URGENT ¥¥¥ Pope washes prisoners' feet in unprecedented Easter ritual

Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 young offenders including two girls at a Rome prison on Thursday in an unprecedented version of an ancient Easter ritual as he pushes for the Catholic Church to reach out to the needy. The ceremony was the first of its type performed by a pope in a prison and the first that included women in a rite which commemorates a gesture of humility that Christians believe Jesus Christ performed for his 12 apostles before his death. dt/boc

Pope urges Church to reach out to needy

Pope Francis urged priests to reach out to the needy as he prepared to wash the feet of young offenders in a Holy Thursday ritual at a Rome prison in his first Easter season as pontiff. "We need to go out... to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters," the 76-year-old Argentinian said at a mass in St Peter's Basilica.

Pope includes women for first time in Holy Thursday rite

By Philip Pullella ROME (Reuters) - Two young women were among 12 people whose feet Pope Francis washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison on Holy Thursday, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite. The pope travelled to the Casal del Marmo prison on Rome's outskirts for the traditional Mass, which commemorates Jesus's gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.

Pope to stamp personal touch on Easter celebrations

Pope Francis will stamp his personal touch on Easter celebrations starting by washing the feet of young prisoners on Thursday as he stresses the importance of reaching out to those in need. The Holy Thursday mass will kick off an intense four days of symbolic ceremonies which commemorate Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Francis' decision to celebrate Christ's Last Supper in the Casal del Marmo prison in northwest Rome, rather than in St. John Lateran's Basilica as per tradition, may be a hint of a shake-up in keenly observed Easter rituals.

Melanie Griffith participates in Spain Holy Week procession

Malaga, Spain, Mar 25 (EFE).- U.S. actress Melanie Griffith, the wife of actor and Malaga native Antonio Banderas, on Monday took part in the procession of the Jesus Cautivo religious brotherhood, one of those with the greatest membership in this southern Spanish city. The actress, dressed in black, joined thousands of other people who on Monday of Holy Week each year follow the religious image of Jesus as a prisoner on its tour through the streets of Malaga starting about 8 p.m. at the brotherhood's headquarters located on Jesus Cautivo Square.

Spain gears up for Holy Week celebrations

Madrid, Mar 24 (EFE).- The streets of Spanish cities and towns are celebrating Holy Week with a mixture of tradition and religious fervor that attracts domestic and international tourists to moving and spectacular processions, the Stations of the Cross, festivals and Passion Plays. In the eight large cities in the southern region of Andalusia, between Palm Sunday and Eastern Sunday some 100,000 penitents belonging to 258 associations will stage processions, some of them featuring valuable artistic works and baroque images by masters such as Martinez Montañes and Alonso Cano.

Pope to celebrate mass in youth prison before Easter

Pope Francis will celebrate a mass next week before Easter in a youth detention centre in Rome during which he will wash the feet of prisoners, the Vatican said in a statement on Thursday. The Vatican said the Holy Thursday mass continued a tradition of the then Jorge Bergoglio when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and held masses in prisons, hospitals or old people's homes. Francis' predecessor Benedict XVI also celebrated mass in the Casal del Marmo prison in northwest Rome in March 2007.

URGENT ¥¥¥ Pope to celebrate mass in youth prison before Easter

Pope Francis will celebrate a mass next week before Easter in a youth detention centre in Rome during which he will wash the feet of prisoners, the Vatican said in a statement on Thursday. The Vatican said the Holy Thursday mass continued a tradition of the then Jorge Bergoglio when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and held masses in prisons, hospitals or old people's homes. dt/lc
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