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Holy Thursday

"Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos"

"A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday and Thursday of Mysteries) is the Thursday of Holy Week - the week leading to Easter and comes the day after Spy Wednesday. Holy Thursday initiates the Easter Triduum.

For Roman Catholics, two ancient traditions are celebrated on this day.

The Mass of the Lord's Supper is celebrated in the evening to celebrate the Lord's Supper. The Mass of the Lord's Supper is celebrated with church bells traditionally ringing after the Gloria. After this, the bells are to be silent until the Easter Vigil Mass. After the Mass of the Lord's Supper the Maundy (or washing of feet) is performed. This tradition can be found written about since at least the 12th century:

"the pope washed the feet of twelve sub-deacons after his Mass and of thirteen poor men after his dinner."

Pope Pius IX would perform this washing in the sala over the portico of Saint Peters Basilica in Rome. Pope Pius XII revised the Maundy and inserted it into the Mass of the Lord's Supper to be celebrated after the homily when the Gospel account of Jesus washing the feel of his twelve apostles is read. The Priest goes to each of twelve parishioners who were selected and lightly washes and dries their feet. In the medieval ages to early modern times it was also common for the monarchs of Europe to participate in the washing. The Grad Master of the Knights Hospitlaler, Roger de Moulins issued the following statue in 1181 :

"Celebrate maundy for thirteen poor persons, and to wash their feet, and to give to each a shirt and new breeches and new shoes, and to three chaplains, or to three clerics out of the thirteen, three deniers and to each of the others, two deniers"

The mandate of only males having their feet washes was changed in 2016 to allow the washing of women's feet in the Roman Missal. In 2013, Pope Francis broke from tradition and washed the feet of two women and Muslims at a detention center in Rome. The Blessed Sacrament is to be exposed until the service concludes with the procession to the place of reposition. It is at this time that the Altar is stripped bare as well as any other altars in the church except for the Altar of Repose.

Also celebrated on Holy Thursday is the Chrism Mass, a mass celebrated in each Diocese and generally held at the diocesan Cathedral. The mass celebrated today is a restoration (instituted in 1967) of the rite first recorded in the 200s by Hippolytus. In it, Hippolytus records that at the Easter Vigil two holy oils were blessed and another consecrated. The Mass was moved from the Vigil to Holy Thursday in the 400s. These three oils are:


Oil of Catechumens

Oil of the Sick

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