MASS IN COENA DOMINI, THE POPE WASHES THE FEET OF THE REFUGEES Far from Rome, Francis chooses Cara of Castelnuovo di Porto for the afternoon ritual of the Holy Thursday

  • Italiano

After having celebrated the Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica this morning, with all the parish priests and the priests of the Diocese of Rome, Pope Francis has left the capital in the early afternoon, heading to Cara in Castelnuovo di Porto. Here, in the middle of refugees, Bergoglio has repeated the gesture Jesus did to his apostles: foot washing. Three Muslims, one person of Hindu religion, three women of Coptic Christian religion and five Catholics – four males and one female – are the chosen ones who have seen the Pope kneeling before them in an act of deep humility. The twelve of them lived turbulent stories and situations at the limit of physical and psychological endurance in countries where pain and suffering reign, and from which they fled to reach Italy.

Like Sira, 37, from Mali, one of the three Muslims who are going to meet the Holy Father for the foot-washing ceremony. He arrived less than two years ago, after having crossed Niger and Libya. Mohamed, who is a Muslim too, turned 22 and arrived at the Welcome Center less than two months ago. He was born in Syria, a country he fled from, crossing the borders of Libya and landing on the shores of Lampedusa on January 11. The third Muslim has had to cross eight countries before reaching his final destination. His name is Khurram, he will turn 26 on June 1, and is a native of Pakistan. From there he had begun his journey through Iran, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria, until he reached Caltanissetta on September 1, 2015.

The only Hindu refugee, Kunal, 29, went through the same stages as Khurram, yet he had started his journey from India. Also the feet of the three women refugees of Coptic religion and Eritrean nationality, have been kissed by the Pope. All of them departed from Eritrea and followed the same route: Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya and Italy. As if they were linked by a common thread, all of them have arrived to Sicily. The eldest, Luchia, 26, arrived on October 7 last year. Kbra who will turn 23 on April 1, has landed on the coast of the island on November 5th; whereas Lucia who is in her early twenties arrived on December 4. There are also five Catholics. The only Catholic woman is Angela Ferri, 30, from Stigliano.

The remaining four people are young Nigerians, two of whom are brothers who arrived to Italy in different periods, but following the same route. The four of them are all students. Having departed from Nigeria, they crossed Niger and Libya. The two brothers are Shadrach Osahon (26) and Endurance (21). To save themselves, they had to separate for a few months, but finally reunited. The eldest arrived in Italy on August 16, 2014 while his younger brother on October 17 of the same year. The other two Nigerian refugees who will receive foot washing are Miminu Bright who will turn 27 next June 15 and Osma (22) who already holds a degree in physics.

The Reception Centre Asylum Seekers hosts 892 people in total, 554 of whom are of Muslim religion, 337 are Christians, and 2 belong to Hindu religion. Among them, in addition to the twelve faithful, the Pope also met three refugee families, like that of Amin, a native of Palestine, Haron and Mesfun who come from Eritrea. It is made of the great-grandmother Taqia, who had taken refuge in Iraq in 1948, then in Syria in 2012, her son Hassan who is married to Sawsan with whom he had a daughter, Tahani. Tahani, in her turn, married Dardir with whom she had two children, Roshdi (8) and Mohammad (6). Finally, there great grandmother Taqia has another grandson, Hani. They arrived to Cara on a boat in January. They have integrated and actively partake in the life of the Center, such as the Day of the Migrant on January 17, when they also walked through the Holy Door.

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