During the Reformation, Protestant propagandists scored a lot of points with woodcuts contrasting the Pope and His Minions unfavorably with Jesus and His Disciples. Here, for example, are a couple of pages from a German pamphlet, “The Passion of Christ and Antichrist,” that show humbly garbed Jesus washing the disciples’ feet even as the enthroned pope is getting his slippered tootsie bussed by royalty.
So when Pope Francis goes to a prison and proceeds to wash (and kiss) the feet of a dozen inmates, the historical resonances are deep. Catholic traditionalists may be freaked out by it–girls! Muslims–but this is the new face of Roman Catholicism.