Meaning of Foot Washing

What is foot washing?

In the Catholic Church, the washing of feet symbolizes the vocation of service, humility and equality that all its faithful must practice.

The washing of the feet commemorates the Trinitarian love following the example of Jesus, who at the Last Supper throws off his cloak and begins to wash the feet of his 12 disciples. This moment is recounted in the Gospel of Saint John of the Christian Bible.

Also called the washing of the feet of the saints, this ceremony reminds faithful Christians of service to others regardless of one’s position because we are all equal.

The origin of foot washing lies in the beginning of the custom of washing parts of the body as a medicinal practice. The lavatories were not only for the feet, but for all the parts of the body that were necessary to avoid diseases.

In this sense, the water of the lavatories symbolizes purity and the feet represent the submission of those who wash or kiss them. In this way, when the son of the Christian god Jesus Christ washes the feet of his 12 apostles at the Last Supper, he shows by his example that if the son of god can be helpful and humble, human beings are also capable of doing so guided by the love.

The washing of feet is a liturgical ceremony celebrated on Holy Thursday of Holy Week, where the Pope washes the feet of 12 poor people showing the Catholic world, just as Jesus did, that humility and service is an important part for those who they consider faithful.

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See also:

  • Holy Thursday
  • Holy Week

Foot washing is a tradition celebrated in both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church and although both hold different customs and dynamics, it symbolizes the same thing.