Pope Francis is to hold a Holy Thursday service in the chapel of a youth prison on the outskirts of Rome.

During the service, the Pope washes and kisses the feet of 12 people to commemorate Jesus' gesture of humility towards his apostles on the night before he died.

All previous popes in living memory held the service either in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican or in the Basilica of St John in Lateran, which is the Pope's cathedral church in his capacity as Bishop of Rome.

Vatican spokesmen said they could not recall an occasion when the service was held anywhere else.

The service will be held at the Casal del Marmo prison for minors.

When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio often celebrated the Holy Thursday service in a jail, a hospital, a home for the elderly or with poor people.

A pope is also Bishop of Rome and the decision by Francis to hold the service in the prison was another indication that he intends to take that role seriously.

The Holy Thursday service is one of several during Holy Week, which for Catholics this year begins on 24 March with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday on 31 March.