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Catholic Dictionary




The washing of the feet in the Liturgy of Holy Thursday. In the revised ritual the washing of the feet takes placed after the Gospel, which narrates the same event at the Last Supper. The men who have been chosen are led to chairs prepared for them. Then the priest goes to each man, pours water over each one's feet, and dries them. Meanwhile the choir or congregation sings a number of antiphons from the appropriate Gospel account in St. John. The ceremony is called the mandatum because it was on the occasion of washing his disciples' feet that Christ gave us the new commandment (novum mandatum) to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:4-17). (Etym. Latin mandatum, commission, order.)