Pope breaks with tradition as he washes feet of young inmates

Pope Francis has broken with tradition in an Easter ritual as he washed and kissed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention centre on Holy Thursday. Previous Pope's have maintained the traditional foot washing within the Vatican with priests.

Two of the 12 were young women, an even more remarkable choice given that the rite re-enacts Jesus' washing of the feet of his male disciples, the inclusion of women has been banned by some dioceses.

Pope Francis washes the foot of a prisoner at Casal del Marmo youth prison in Rome Credit: Reuters

Orthodox and Muslim detainees were also included in the twelve according to news reports.

"This is a symbol, it is a sign - washing your feet means I am at your service," Francis told the youngsters.

"Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service."