RELIGION

Maundy Thursday 2015: The History Behind The Holy Thursday Before Easter

Pope Francis (L) kisses the foot of a person as he performs the traditional Washing of the feet during a visit at a center fo
Pope Francis (L) kisses the foot of a person as he performs the traditional Washing of the feet during a visit at a center for disabled people as part of Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) as part of the Holy Week on April 17, 2014 in Rome. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Maundy Thursday is observed by Christians on the Thursday before Easter, which falls this year on April 2. "Holy Thursday," 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 "Maundy Thursday" 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 feet-washing is often performed as part of Maundy Thursday church services.

Another important Christian ritual to come out of the Last Supper story is that of the Eucharist or Holy Communion. 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 Maundy Thursday liturgy.

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Lent Meditation Slideshow
CONVERSATIONS