Pope Washes the Feet of Twelve Migrants

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Sachi Bhati

By Sachi Bhati ’18, News Editor

On Holy Thursday, March 24th, 2016, Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve migrants from all over the world. This year’s migrants included eight men and four woman, four Nigerian Catholic men, three Coptic women from Eritrea (two of them were holding babies), three young Muslim men (from Syria, Pakistan, and Mali), one young Hindu man, and lastly, an Italian woman who works at the center at which the ceremony took place.

This became a tradition back in the 1950s, which imitates Jesus’s gesture of servitude as he washed the feet of his twelve apostles at the Last Supper. Back in 2013, when Francis became pope, he washed the feet of Muslims, which did not bring out a large crowd.

After hearing the Gospel account in which Jesus washes the feet of the twelve apostles–“We heard of two gestures in that Gospel…first, Jesus who serves and washes the feet of the twelve, and he is the leader, and second, Judas who goes to the enemies of Jesus who do not want peace, and who give him money.” –the Pope went on further to say that there were two gestures that day too. “The first, here, all together, all brothers, Muslims, Hindus, Copts, Evangelicals, and Catholics, all children of the same God, who want to live in peace.” The second gesture had to do with the recent terrorist attacks, “three days ago, a gesture of war, of destruction, in a city of Europe, by people who do not want to live in peace.” But behind this gesture, as behind Judas’s intentions, there were others. Also in regard to the attacks, Francis went on to say, “You, we, all of us together, of different religions, different cultures, but children of the same Father, brothers — and there, those poor people, who buy weapons to wreck fraternity.”

The Pope not only washed their feet, but he simply smiled up at each one, and even reached up to touch the newborns of two women from Eritrea. It is recorded that quite a few of the migrants whose feet were washed had tears flowing down their face.  After washing all of the migrant’s feet the Pope looked at each one of them and said, “All of you have a story of so much suffering, but you also have a heart that is open, that wants brotherhood and peace. Let us all together, each in their own religious language, pray to God and ask for brotherhood, peace and goodness.”

“Today, at this time, when I do the same act of Jesus washing the feet of twelve of you, let us all make a gesture of brotherhood, and let us all say: ‘We are different, we are different, we have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace.’”

The Pope ended the moment by saying, “Let us remember, it is good to live together as brothers, with our cultures and traditions. And this has a name: peace and love.” Just before leaving, the Pope shook the hand of each and every one of the migrants present.

The Pope has been promoting the important of peace, and these gestures were indeed powerful and vital for Europe and the rest of the world, because of the recent events in two European countries in the past six months.


Image Source: http://www.philstar.com/world/2016/03/25/1566274/pope-washes-feet-muslim-migrants-says-we-are-brothers