RELIGION

The History Behind The Holy Thursday Before Easter

Maundy Thursday marks the Last Supper of Jesus before his crucifixion.
Pope Francis leads the Mass for Holy Thursday on March 24, 2016 at St Peter's basilica in Vatican.
Pope Francis leads the Mass for Holy Thursday on March 24, 2016 at St Peter's basilica in Vatican.
Maundy Thursday is observed by Christians on the Thursday before Easter, which falls this year on March 24. “
,” as it is also commonly known, marks the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his apostles prior to his betrayal, trial and crucifixion as portrayed in the Christian gospels.
While the Palm Sunday and Easter observances of Holy Week are generally more joyful, Maundy Thursday observances take on a more solemn tone and focus on two primary rituals that are portrayed in the biblical accounts of the Last Supper.
The name “
“ is derived from the Latin word
mandatum
meaning “commandment.” The primary commandment of Jesus’ message is found in the story of the Last Supper when Jesus humbles himself to wash the feet of his apostles prior to the traditional Passover meal, or Seder. Jesus then commands them to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). In observance of this commandment, the act of
is often performed as part of Maundy Thursday church services.
Lebanon's Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rai, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant, washes prisoners feet
Lebanon's Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rai, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant, washes prisoners feet during the Maundy Thursday Mass at Lebanon's Roumieh prison, northeast of Beirut on March 24, 2016.
On Thursday, Pope Francis marked the day by
seeking asylum in Rome. He also decreed that moving forward the Maundy Thursday ritual
, who were previously excluded.
Another important Christian ritual to come out of the Last Supper story is that of the Eucharist or
. Described in all three of the synoptic gospels and expounded upon in Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians, Christians take communion to replicate Jesus’ giving of bread and wine to his apostles during their final meal together. While different denominations may maintain different specific interpretations of the ritual, many incorporate a special communion into the
 
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