When it comes to slightly bizarre rituals, most religions have their own individual idiosyncrasies, but the Catholic Church has to take the crown for one of the strangest.
Yesterday, just in time for Easter, the head of the Catholic Church, it’s esteemed leader, Pope Francis, washed and kissed – yes, kissed – the feet of 12 people, some of them hardened convicted criminals and murderers, for the third consecutive year.
The ceremony itself, which has traditionally only been attended by men, commemorates Jesus’ gesture of humility towards his Twelve Apostles on the night before he died.
And while the ceremony was usually held either at the Vatican or the Roman Basilica of St John Lateran, Pope Francis prefers to conduct it the in poorer Rome neighbourhoods with ordinary people.
As can be seen from the image above, the Pope knelt humbly before the six men and six women, pouring water over their feet, drying them with a towel and then kissing them.
The fact that the ever-progressive Pope Francis has also included non-Christians and women in the ceremony has, of course, been criticised by more conservative, traditionalist Catholics.
The ceremony took place at the chapel of Rebibbia prison on Rome’s outskirts, with the Pontiff telling the inmates that the event symbolised service to others and spiritual cleansing.
While kissing the criminal’s feet, the Pope said he enjoyed what he was doing as he wants, “to become more of a slave in the service of people.”
The prisoners who were selected from 2,000 inmates, were from Italy, Nigeria, Congo, Ecuador and Brazil.
The pope also hopes to visit Colombia in the coming months, as a letter from the Vatican recently noted, “His Holiness invites you to be collaborators in the construction of peace.”
[Image credit: youtube.com]