Maundy Thursday

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane - Carl Bloch

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane - Carl Bloch

What if you had the opportunity to be the angel who comforted Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane? What would you say to him to give him strength? — Elaine Breinholt Street

Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday is the day when by tradition the Last Supper takes place and the English Monarch in a ceremony dating from the Middle Ages hands out money to the poor and deserving, one coin for each year the monarch has been on the throne.

There is a discrepancy between the Gospels as to when the Last Supper took place. Professor Colin Humphreys, a scientist at the University of Cambridge, has suggested that this is due to the gospel writers using two different calenders. That when account is taken of this and the Last Supper moved to two days before Good Friday, not only is the problem resolved but now have sufficient time for all the activity that takes place between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all assert that the Last Supper coincided with the start of the Jewish festival of Passover, John claims it took place before Passover.

The night of Maundy Thursday is the night on which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The word maundy comes from the command (mandate) given by Christ at the Last Supper, that we should love one another.

To comfort is often misunderstood in this context. It does not mean to give tea and sympathy it means to give strength.

In Britain the monarch performs the Ceremony of the Royal Maundy. This ceremony, held at a great cathedral, involves the distribution of Maundy money to deserving senior citizens (one man and one woman for each year of the sovereign’s age), usually chosen for having done service to their community. They receive ceremonial red and white purses which contain coins made especially for the occasion. The white purse contains one coin for each year of the monarch’s reign. The red purse contains money in place of other gifts that used to be given to the poor.

This year the Queen celebrated her 85th birthday by handing out Maundy money in a traditional royal service at Westminster Abbey.

In the 17th century, and earlier, the King or Queen would wash the feet of the selected poor people as a gesture of humility, and in remembrance of Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples. The last monarch to do this was James II. The ceremony of the monarch giving money to the poor on this day dates back to Edward I.

Roman Catholic church services feature a ceremony known as Pedilavium in which the priest washes the feet of twelve people to commemorate Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples. It was common in monasteries throughout history for the Abbot to wash the feet of the monks in a similar gesture. Some other churches nowadays also have foot-washing ceremonies as part of their Maundy Thursday services.

In Roman Catholic churches, Maundy Thursday is usually the day on which the supply of anointing oil to be used in ceremonies during the year is consecrated. This is done at a special Chrism Mass.

Danish painter Carl Bloch painted two scenes of Christ and Angel in the Garden of Gethsemane. That shown is the first, Gethsemane I.

The Queen hands out Maundy money
Passover supper
‘I Thirst’
Holy Week
Was the Last Supper 24 hours earlier? Scientist claims historic meal was TWO days before Jesus’ crucifixion
The First Easter Week Musing
Quema de Palmitos
Ash Wednesday
Crucifixion or Corpus Hypercubus
The Cross

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One Response to “Maundy Thursday”


    The painting brought tears into my eyes….. Look at it for a few minutes and you will understand. Thank you Keith for the information. I have been to the Holy Land and the ‘feeling’ is the same.. It is as if He IS with us..

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