Washing of the Feet

views updated


The liturgical rite of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday takes its inspiration from the Last Supper, where Jesus first washed the feet of his apostles and commanded them to do likewise (see Jn 13:4-14). As a liturgical rite for Holy Thursday it is first found in the canons of the 17th Synod of Toledo in Spain (694). Evidently, however, it was even older, for the synod recommends its restoration (C. J. von Hefele, Histoire des conciles d'après les documents originaux 3:586). It made its way to Rome by the 11th century; the pope washed the feet of 12 subdeacons at the end of the evening Mass on Holy Thursday. When the other Holy Thursday rites were moved to the morning hours during the 14th century, the Mandatum remained a separate service to be held in the afternoon. Pius XII's Holy Week Ordinal places it during the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper immediately after the Gospel and homily. It has remained in this position in the liturgical books promulgated in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Accompanying the washing of feet is the beautiful hymn Ubi caritas et amor ("Where charity and love prevails").

Bibliography: n. m. haring, "Historical Notes on the Interpretation of John 13:10," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 13 (1951) 355380. h. weiss, "Foot Washing in the Johannine community," Novum Testamentum 21 (1979), p. 298325. s. m. schneiders, "The Foot Washing (John 13:120): An Experiment in Hermeneutics," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 43 (1981) 7692. Abendmahl und Fusswaschung (Hamburg 1991) c. niemand, Die Fusswaschungserzählung des Johannesevangeliums: Untersuchungen zu ihrer Entstehung und Überlieferung im Urchristentum (Rome 1993). j. c. thomas, Footwashing in John 13 and the Johannine Community (Sheffield, England 1991). p. jeffery, A New Commandment : Toward a Renewed Rite for the Washing of Feet (Collegeville, MN 1992). d. tripp, "Meanings of the Foot-Washing: John 13 and Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 840," Expository Times 103 (1992) 237239.

[j. a. fischer/

w. j. o'shea/eds.]

About this article

Washing of the Feet

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article