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Bishop washes parishioners’ feet at Maundy Mass

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper was celebrated by Bishop Peter Collins at St John’s Cathedral in Norwich on Maundy Thursday, April 6, where he ceremonially washed the feet of 12 parishioners.

In the presence of a congregation of around 350 people, Bishop Peter said in his homily: “We know well the image of the Last Supper painted by Leonardo da Vinci. We behold Jesus assembled with his apostles in the upper room.

He went on to say: “The Jewish Passover was primarily a commemoration of a liberation from slavery in Egypt, a tradition that had been enacted for 1,200 years.”

All who were present at the Last Supper believed they knew the framework of the feast, whereas in reality a new scenario is being painted, explained Bishop Peter.

“Although the rituals of the meal seem the same as ever, the content of the meal is about to become something radically different. In the upper room, Jesus declares that the hour has finally come for him to pass from this world to the Father. The companions of Jesus cannot yet comprehend this passage, this new Passover.

“When Jesus rises from the table and washes the feet of his disciples, his companions are bewildered and reluctant.

“Jesus says: ‘you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand’.

“They knew he was washing their feet but they did not know that he was in fact demonstrating that he would soon be laying down his life. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands,” said Bishop Peter.

“Through the gift and insight of faith, we are privileged to know what Jesus was revealing in the upper room – to comprehend the nature of this new sacred meal of sacrifice.”

After his homily, Bishop Peter knelt to wash, dry and kiss the feet of a dozen parishioners, following the example of Jesus, at the Last Supper.

After Holy Communion, the Bishop led a procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament to a tabernacle in the Sunken Chapel in the Cathedral where it remained, while being watched, until midnight, as a reminder of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Click here or see below for a picture gallery of the Mass. Pictures by Keith Morris.

Mass of the Lord's Supper, St John's Cathedral