March 28*: Holy Thursday

Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), Cappella Scrovegni a Padova, Life of Christ, Washing of FeetIn 2013, March 28 is Holy Thursday. To some of us, that just means tomorrow is Good Friday and Sunday is Easter, and it’s a long weekend. However, I just spent a while reading about this holiday, and, since you’re reading this blog, you, presumably, might want to know something more about it. Right? Of course right!

If you’ve ever heard the term Maundy Thursday, it’s not a crazy misspelling for Monday – Thursday. The term maundy probably originated from the mandate or command in John 13.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

early 1300s painting by Duccio di BuoninsegnaJesus gives this command during the Last Supper, some point after he washed the disciples feet. This is why many congregations celebrate Maundy Thursday with special communion services and by washing each other’s feet. Many churches also remove everything extra or “stripping the altar,” as Jesus’s clothes were taken from him.

In many Catholic churches, all the bells are rung during an evening service, in celebration of the Last Supper. At the end of the service, the bells are silenced, the altar stripped, and the church remains quiet and somber until Easter morning, when all the bells ring for the glory of the Resurrection! Pretty cool, huh?

“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

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