Pope prepares to wash feet of inmates at Rebibbia prison
To find out more about the inmates who’ll be greeting the Pope and attending Mass in Rebibbia’ chapel, Philippa Hitchen spoke with a longtime volunteer at the prison, Maria Ponce de Leon…
Maria says she began volunteering in 1998 as part of the Italian Caritas ‘volunteers in prison’ association. There are over 100 volunteers who visit inmates in the three male and one female institutes that make up the Rebibbia complex….
A listening ministry
Preparations for the papal visit
Maria says right now “the whole prison is fizzling with excitement and enthusiasm” as inmates prepare for Pope Francis to visit them. About 150 male prisoners and a similar number of female detainees will be inside the chapel with the Pope, while another 400 will be outside with volunteers and prison staff watching the Mass on several maxi screens….
Those taking part in the liturgy have been selected from amongst the regular attendants of Sunday Mass in prison and Maria says they are people of different faiths or none. The chapel, she notes, is called the ‘Our Father’ chapel, as it is open to everybody. Anyone from outside who visits the prison brings life to those inside, she concludes, and that is the most important thing for them.