Maundy Thursday

The Thursday before Easter. Maundy is derived from the Latin word mandatum (meaning commandment), the first word of a religious chant sung by pilgrims on that day at the time of the washing of feet. It also refers to Christ's words after he had washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper (John 13:34), "A new commandment I give unto you." Maundy-Thursday is sometimes called Shear Thursday, alluding evidently to the shearing of beards and heads in preparation for Easter. Foot washing before Easter was part of the rites of the Roman Catholic Church from about the fourth century, and the act itself was performed by Pope, prelates, priests and nobles. Doles or alms were then given the poor and these gifts were called maunds.

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