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Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday

Posted By on April 5, 2012

Today is Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday and in many countries it is a normal Thursday with the Easter holiday starting on Good Friday, but in Tudor times and in Catholic countries today it is still an important religious day.

Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, that final meal that Jesus Christ had with his disciples before his arrest. According to Luke’s Gospel, at this meal, Christ took bread, gave thanks to God for it, broke it and then shared it with his disciples, saying “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” He then took the cup of wine, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” This act is remembered in Christian churches by the receiving of “communion” or the Eucharist.

Also at this supper, Christ washed his disciples’ feet and this act was commemorated in Tudor times by the monarch and his consort washing the feet of poor people, as well as the giving out of alms. You can read more about it in my article “Maundy Thursday”.

Today, almsgiving is still carried out by the monarch. Queen Elizabeth II will be giving out Maundy money later at York Minster to 86 men and 86 women, 86 being the Queen’s age. Each recipient will receive a red purse containing an amount of money for food and clothing and a white purse containing a specially minted silver Maundy coin.

On Maundy Thursday 1536, just weeks before her fall, Queen Anne Boleyn washed the feet of the poor and gave out Maundy money. Records show that Anne’s expenditure for this Maundy was 31 l. 3s. 9 ½d.

Also on this day in history…

Comments on
"Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday"

6 Responses to “Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday”

  1. WilesWales says:

    Maunday Thursday is still very much observed by those of the Lutheran Church under the direction of the Missour Synod. It is taken just as seriously now as it was when Marthin Luther was still in hiding beforet the Augsburg Confession in 1530 (after the Diet of Worms in1520, three years after the posting of his 95 theses outside the door of Wittenburg on Octobet 31, 1517, after his outrage at Johan Tetzel who had come into townto sell indulgences – after this where Luther was excommunicated and order to be burned at the stake by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, but Luther escaped), that solidified the 28 articles reducing all the sacrements to two: Baptism, and the Reception of the Lord’s Supper as they are the only two directly ordered by Christ in the gospel. I could go on as usual.
    England broke with the Roman Catholic Church in 1533, and is now the Anglican Church in Britain, so it is approprate that Queen Elizabeth would be doing this annual act of charity. In the United States, it is now basically the Episcapol (sp?) church.
    I think it was wonderful of Anne and her station as Queen to do such an act of humility for the people to see what her daugther, Elizabeth would one day be, and that was “The Queen of the England, and married to the English people (not in ceremony, but in heart and loyalty)! What a great thing for Anne to do not knowing what shorlty lay ahead. Thank you! WilesWales

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  2. Marilyn R says:

    I have friends in York who were lucky enough to be there in the Minster today and apparently a great time was had by all.

    One of the funniest lectures I have ever heard was given by the Dean’s Verger of Lincoln Cathedral who had been ‘put in charge of’ Prince Philip when the Queen distributed the Maundy money there a few years ago. Apparently they were just like any other elderly couple with the Queen misplacing her handbag, which the Duke thought was just typical of a woman, and he having to keep sucking the cough sweets so that he would be able to get through reading the lesson with a cold.

    This time last year staff at Westminster Abbey very kindly spent time with me showing me the burial pace of Anne Mowbray, the child bride of the younger of the Princes in the Tower. They had had obstacles removed before my arrival and I shall be eternally grateful for their help bearing in mind the Maundy ceremony was only days and the royal wedding only a couple of weeks away.

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  3. Marie Ford Mccartney says:

    Doesn’t the amount of money given away on Maudy Thursday tie in with the age of ” Foot Washer” ? Does 31 mean something?

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    Claire Reply:

    I thought that but I think it only applied to the King because there are various comments about how the amount in the Maundy purses increased significantly when Anne became Queen, as opposed to Catherine, yet Catherine was older than Anne.

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    Claire Reply:

    I’ve just had a look at some of the other records for Maundy money and here’s a few for the King:-
    1520 – “Offering on Good Friday, 20s. To 30 poor men at the King’s maundy on Shire Thursday, 75s. Dealt in alms at Greenwich on Good Friday, in groats, 20l.; in half groats, 64l. To the dean of Salisbury, who preached, 20s. 3 doz. purses for the maundy, 12d.” – Henry was 28
    1516 – “26 poor men for the King’s Maundy, 56s. 4d. The King’s dole on Good Friday, 90l. 10s. 3 doz. purses for the Maundy”. Henry was 24 years old
    1510 – ” 6d. Good Friday offering, 20s. Dr. Colet, preaching, 20s. Twenty almsmen at the King’s maundy, 20d. each. Two doz. purses for the maundy, 8d. Alms to poor folks, in groats, 11l.; in half groats, 40l.” – The King was 18.
    It seems like the amount of poor people/purses ties in roughly with the King’s age (I’m not sure how much you adjust for the Tudor New Year etc.) but the amount doesn’t seem to.

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    Marie Ford Mccartney Reply:

    I guess it would be nice if it could have been that simple… :)

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