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Priests wash feet of homeless, poor in Manila’s Holy Thursday rites

Divine Word missionary priest Flaviano Villanueva washes the feet of a homeless person during a Holy Thursday ritual in a temporary shelter in Manila on April 9. (Photo by Basilio Sepe)

Homeless people and urban poor dwellers joined the ritual washing of the feet on Holy Thursday in the Philippine capital Manila amid a lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ritual is traditionally done during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper when the Catholic Church remembers the Last Supper of Jesus before which he washed the feet of his apostles.

Religious rites and rituals are, however, cancelled this year in predominantly Catholic Philippines due to the “enhanced community quarantine” to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Divine Word missionary priest Flaviano Villanueva washed the feet of homeless people in a temporary shelter as “a reminder that God will never forsake and forget us.”

“God wanted to let you know that despite your past, whatever you did before you were brought here, that He is not done with you yet,” the priest told the people during the celebration.

Father Villanueva said he was given permission by church leaders to hold the ceremony subject to quarantine protocols imposed by authorities.

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