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.