VATICAN CITY : Pope Francis will wash the feet of a group of disabled and elderly people as part of an Easter ritual imitating Jesus Christ’s humility on April 17 during a visit to a hospice in Rome, the Vatican said on Tuesday.
The pontiff will visit the Centro Santa Maria della Provvidenza Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi home on the city’s northwestern outskirts on Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Christ’s Last Supper with the apostles. The ceremony is part of the run-up to Easter Sunday. Shortly after his election last year, Francis visited a youth detention centre where he performed the washing of feet ritual on a group of young inmates including two Muslims - the first Catholic leader ever to do so. Francis has often shown particular attention to disabled people and the elderly, condemning a “hidden euthanasia” in modern societies against the old.
Moreover, the Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar.
The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March and the Full Moon is not necessarily on the astronomically correct date. Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar.