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Pope Celebrates Holy Thursday Mass

Pope Benedict has opened four days of ceremonies leading to the Christian observance of Easter, with a call for the faithful to find true freedom by submitting to the will of God.

Benedict's Holy Thursday plea came at a mass that included participation by clergy from the diocese of Rome. During the service, he also blessed oils that will be used in the coming year in church rituals.

The pontiff will celebrate a second mass later Thursday, commemorating the biblical Last Supper of Jesus and his apostles. During that ceremony, the pope will symbolically wash the feet of 12 men. Christian liturgy says Jesus washed the feet of his 12 apostles on the evening before his crucifixion.

On Easter Sunday -- the holiest day of the Christian calendar -- Christians will commemorate what they believe was the resurrection of Jesus.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.