Catholic Dictionary

Term

WASHING OF THE HANDS

Definition

Liturgical washing of the fingers by a priest before Mass and after Mass, which is not prescribed; and washing the fingers at the Offertory, which is part of the Eucharistic liturgy. It symbolizes the purity of conscience expected of the celebrant at Mass and the respect due to the Eucharistic elements handled during Mass. The hands are also washed by a bishop after using chrism in confirmation and holy orders, and by a priest after using the holy oils at baptism and anointing of the sick.