POLL: Holy Thursday Foot Washing “mandatum”

People sometimes forget that the Foot Washing rite on Holy Thursday is an option in the Novus Ordo Missale Romanum.  It can be done or excluded depending on the pastoral circumstances.

What is not an option is that, if it is done, only the feet of males should be washed.

This is clear from the rubrics in the Missale and in clarifications from the Holy See.

Nevertheless we all know that these clear rubrics and the clarifications from the Holy See are annually violated.

So, I present a poll: what did you see this year?

I am not opening up this poll so we can rehash whether or not feminine feet should or can be washed.  I am not interested in that question in this entry.  

I just want to know what you saw.

You can post descriptions in the comments, but let’s not reargue the question, has been addressed at length elsewhere.

You might add in your comments if what you saw represented a change in the practice from previous years.

Also, it may be that some body part other than feet was washed, which is entirely unliturgical.  If that was the case in what you saw, you can also check that option.


On Holy Thursday in the Foot Washing rite you saw or took part in there were

  • Males and females or females only (44%, 1,001 Votes)
  • Males only (44%, 995 Votes)
  • neither males or females – the rite was not done (12%, 281 Votes)
  • and/or some other body part was washed (e.g., hands) (2%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,282


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  1. Ben says:

    The feet-washing was very much governed by the “cross-section of the congregation” model where I was: men, women, and children were up there.

  2. Mattk says:

    Never have seen the female foot wash, but I’m sure it is around in our area.

  3. Joshua says:

    Men…in fact altar boys/men

  4. Deacon Larry says:

    Men, women and children. Getting 10 volunteers of any sex I’m told is difficult so “we taka who we can get.” Men did out number the women – if tha’s of any value.

  5. laurazim says:

    Our bishop washed the feet of 12 of our seminarians. He also commented that though he must wash the feet of his priests, he was well aware that some of them did not want him to…but that he must. Rather poignant here in the Diocese of Madison……

  6. Hunter says:

    I suppose I’m lucky – Fr. Richard only washes the feet of twelve men (the deacons included). One of the Altar Society ladies is in charge of ‘recruiting’ men to have their feet washed from the parish; she and Father and very adamant about only men. Though, I’m sure this isn’t the norm everywhere in the diocese.

  7. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I saw “males only,” but I went to a Benedictine abbey. Monks and selected male guests. My experience in the archdiocese of Boston is everyone and anyone can get their feet wet — in my old parish the floor was awash.

  8. FSB says:

    I went to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento last night and saw nine men and three women get their feet washed by the bishop.

  9. Ricky Vines says:

    Everyone who wanted to wash, washed. And everyone who wanted to be washed, was washed. There were 6 stations and the congregration lined up as they would for communion. Then they took turns washing and being washed.
    If was done solemnly, but it was different from what I was used to.

  10. nw says:

    All but one of our washees was female, the ratio of female to male up from 50% last year.

  11. Andrew says:

    At St. John the Beloved in McLean, VA the feet of 12 altar boys were washed. The Liturgy of the Eucharist was said in Latin (ad orientem, well at least it would be if it wasn’t a church in the round). All the congregational responses were in latin too. They also have a wonderful schola cantorum.

    In my three years of being Catholic it was the most beautiful Maundy Thursday Mass I’ve been to.

  12. TJM says:

    I was pleased to say I was at St. John Cantius where Father Phillip washed the feet of 6 of his brother priests and 6 of his seminarians. It was
    beautiful and quite moving. Tom

  13. Romanrevert says:

    We had men, women, and children for the foot washing. We also had some bizarre sung Mass that gave the feeling of a broadway musical. It was vile and disgusting. I came home and looked up “viri selecti” on the USCCB site to see how we are able to rationalize an obvious wrong. Here is the link: http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/q%26a/general/feet.shtml

    I guess that since enough people are doing it, it must be OK. Hence, democracy trumps Church discipline. Our Church is turning into a Church of “what is allowed” instead of “what is expected.”

  14. Jenny Z says:

    Men and women. Unfortunately, no different than last year, or the year before…

  15. Mila says:

    The usual mix of males and females. What did surprise me, though, was that the prayers of the faithful were said _before_ the washing. Isn’t it supposed to be after? That had never happened before. Perhaps Father was distracted because our vicar was rushed to the hospital on Saturday with an acute gall-bladder attack and the pastor is alone for Holy Week services. Please keep Fr. Juan in your prayers; he had surgery on Tuesday and it’s apparently more than was at first suspected.

  16. Lee Gilbert says:

    At the Cathedral in Portland, Oregon the Archbishop washed the feet of nine men, two women and a ten yr old girl.

  17. amdg says:

    At the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame.
    There were dozens of priests on the altar, but the feet of 12 male and female laypeople were washed.

  18. Bos Mutissimus says:

    Eleven males and one He-Man (me)

    Submitted with All Due Humility,

    The Dumbest Ox

  19. prof. basto says:

    Males only.


    Fr. CantaLaMessa did a good job today.

    Much better then past years.

  20. Patrick says:

    Our pastor washed the feet of 12 men. I was one of them.

    The Mass was beautiful. Lots of incense, bells through the Gloria, the woodblock-thing at the consecration, and a long solemn procession in the dark church with all the parish servers (30 or so) to the Altar of repose.

  21. KBW says:

    Byzantine: men only, right foot only. Also, the men were seated in a place of honor during the D.L. and were first to receive Communion. Very moving. I never liked getting roped into having my feet washed in the Roman rite (before I knew it was verboten) and I’m very happy to never do it again.

  22. Brian says:

    From what I could see from the organ upstairs, there were all women except two or three males.

  23. College Student says:

    From my understanding, the Missale says only men should have their feet washed, by the Bishops in the United States have somehow said that both males and females may participate in the washing of the feet.

  24. Neither males or females – the rite was not done. We did,however have communion under both species via intinction.

  25. Martha says:

    At our parish, men, women, and children were encouraged to come up as “family groups” and have their feet washed. Also, not only did the priest wash, but also anyone who wanted to do the washing could do so. And so there were little groups of people all over the church washing each others feet. Very strange to a traditionalist.

  26. David says:

    We had a mixture of men and women as usual.

    I was a bit perplexed at our Good Friday Liturgy today. I was reminded (I’d forgotten) that we don’t sing hymns on Good Friday. We also venerated a plain, large, empty cross (no corpus). Having been received from the Anglican Communion a few years ago, I was used to singing wonderful Passiontide hymns on Good Friday – almost the only chance we get to sing them. While unspeakably grateful to be in full communion with the Holy Father and the Catholic Church throughout the ages, I really miss the good liturgy and hymns of the Anglican Tradition. So much modern Catholic liturgy is shallow and depressing. Excuse me, I digress.

    When I asked why there were no hymns and who had made the decision I was told “that man in Rome who dresses in white”. Is there any truth to this at all?

    Wishing you all every blessing for the rest of the Triduum.


  27. J. C. Oberholzer says:

    In the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Cardinal Rigali washed only one foot of each of the twelve seminarians selected for the ritual.

  28. cheyan says:

    At the OF Mass I attended (not my normal parish, but a parish that occasionally has the EF), the pastor washed the feet of twelve of the catechumens. I didn’t count, but I think it was 7 women and 5 men, or 8 and 4.

    To my surprise, communion was not offered under both kinds. I don’t know if this is common for the OF Masses there or not.

  29. The liturgies of my home parish are heavily influenced by a very liberal religious sister, and the idea of men only would horrify her. She also strongly believes in female ordination, married priests, and is a huge proponent of “the spirit of Vatican II,” which as we know is the prefacing of all modern heresies.

  30. Steven says:

    In Wichita, KS the EF was said by Bp. Gerber (retired). It seemed that the first 12 men who arrived at the church were asked to have their foot washed.

  31. Derik Castillo says:

    The pastor said he always finds difficulty finding 12 men willing to participate, so this part was not done.

  32. magdalene says:

    The priests went through the church, washing feet of men and women; I do not know how many–I would assume 12.

    The Eucharist was removed before Mass…should It not be removed after? And there is no veiling in our parish.

  33. Anthony says:

    No Mandatum at the ICRSS Oratory in NJ. Msgr. Schmitz did make a surprise appearance though as he was on his way back from Rome where he and Msgr. Wach presented the ICRSS’ sisters to the Holy Father this week.

  34. Wow, those are disappointing results.

  35. Mark R says:

    Males only at St. Alphonsus, Ballard, Seattle. Mine were one of them.

  36. Christopher says:

    At the Ordinary Form I attended last night, the Priest select a Family of 13 who was going to be brought fully into the church on the Easter Vigil.
    Most of the Family was boys but out of the 13 there were 3 girls including the mother.

  37. Antonius says:

    I saw a bunch of children (male and female) almost blew a gasket.

  38. Richard says:

    It was opened up to the entire congregation – men, women, children (no pets… yet). Several stations all around the church. People come up in lines, wash one person’s feet, then get their feet washed by the next person.

    For the first time that I can remember, I did not participate – thanks be to God that I have become an avid reader here and finally learned what the rubrics really say. Hopefully after Bishop Cordileone is installed (I’m in the Diocese of Oakland, CA), His Excellency will correct this along with all the other liturgical abuses.

  39. Patrick McNally says:

    Happy to report men only, feet only. St. Monica’s – Kalamazoo, MI.

    He is Risen. Happy Easter to all.

    May God richly bless you…those whom you love…and those for whom you pray.

  40. Michael says:

    Where I was there were 5 concelebrating priests and one deacon. The celebrant washed the feet of the other 4 concelebrants, the deacon, a brother, and then six laymen.

  41. Immaculatae says:

    Mixture of men and women, appeared to be more women.

  42. JustDave says:

    I went to Mass at a church other than my own (in Currie, MN) and a very young (new?) priest washed the feet of 6 men. It is the first time (in the 4 years I have been Catholic) I have ever seen it done with only 6 people and also the first time I have ever seen it done with only men. He also prayed EP #1 and one of our songs was in Latin.

  43. Mary says:

    Not too much of a change from years past, my parish had males and females. Fr. Brian washed one foot of each person, though he has voiced his opinion that he likes 12 men having their feet washed. As Fr. Brian as said we’ve seen all sorts of things, but he’d prefer 12 men, now I have something to show him and say let’s do it correctly next year.

  44. Chad Myers says:

    At our Cathedral, the Bishop himself washed the feet of 6 women and 6 men. One of the women was a teenage girl wearing a short skirt and high heels.

  45. Mike says:

    There were 9 adult males, 1 male child, 1 female child, 1 adult female wearing black nylon hose.

    At communion, the two priests distributed the Hosts from “lead crystal” bowls/containers.

  46. Pam says:

    I went to a parish other than my own, with a regulare Gregorian Mass, to avoid the nonsense. Twelve men went forward for the foot washing. When the Priest was on the fourth man an elderly (70ish)woman went up barefoot and sat down after man #6 who I saw speak to her. The priest graciously washed her feet and went on over to the other six men. The son of a friend of mine was one of the men. I don’t know if the pastor planned this or if the woman was being rebellious. My opinion tends towards the latter.

  47. Geoffrey says:

    As usual here in California, we had men, women, and children… all taking turns in washing their feet. 12 men and women were pre-selected and each had their foot washed by the celebrant. Then the faithful were invited to come up if they wished. The pre-selected men and women then washed their feet, and then those who came up waited to wash someone else’s foot. Oh, and the priests had their feet washed too.

  48. Berthold says:

    I really wonder if the Mandatum (although permitted) makes sense in parish churches. It is a sign of humility for e.g. the Abbot to wash the feet of his subordinates, or, for a King to wash the feet of some of his subjects (there are still vestiges of that in the English court ceremonial, although mutilated since the Reformation). But parishioners are not subjects of the parish priest, so the rite seems to me pointless.

    Also, should it really be a public display in the church?; traditionally it took place in the chapter house, thus the place where the Abbot or Bishop normally exercized his authority.

  49. AM says:

    Not sure if the rite was done. I guess it was, since the commentator called it the Mandatum. What was done: anyone who wants to can walk forward to the place where the altar rail used to be and wash someone else’s feet who is there. About 60% of the congregation did so.

  50. Emilio III says:

    Six women, four men and two little boys had their left foot washed. There were four altar girls and two bearded young men as thurifer and cross-bearer. These were presumably seminarians, since you could barely see under their albs the only cassocks in the church.

    My mother asked me to “offer it up as penance”, but from the expressions of the seminarians I believe things will get better.

  51. Bill in Texas says:

    Men only in Mesquite.

  52. Mary in CO says:

    Our bishop washed the feet of men, women, and one young boy.

  53. Gregg the Obscure says:

    In past years the custom at my parish was for all willing to come forward and, once a person’s feet were washed, he or she washed the feet of the next person. Participation dwindled through the years. Was glad to hear that particular item was being omitted this year.

    Yesterday had a novelty: “anointing” the palms of the hands by either the pastor, one of the two deacons or a lay woman. Problematic in that (1) anointing the hands is not a legitimate option for Holy Thursday; (2) only priests have the power to anoint and (3) it seemed to be an activity created for its own sake that distracts from the much larger mystery of the Triduum.

  54. Michael says:

    Most Holy Trinity Church in Augusta, GA was evenly split male/female. While I would have rather seen all male washees, it was a most beautiful and moving Mass.

  55. dymphna says:

    Went to the Franciscan monastery in DC. monks, plus
    priests and 4 laymen and one woman wearing a skirt got the
    right foot washed. The woman wore a long skirt
    and remembered not to wear hose.

  56. jennifer eva says:

    They asked for volunteers and the women jumped up and I sent my husband (the only male to go) and my daughter cried she couldn’t go up. The washed one foot – whichever the volunteers gave up. *sigh* I can’t force my husband to change parishes (there is an EF 35 minutes away at reasonable time too!) but I have begun brick by brick building on his receptivity.

    Thank you Fr Z for your blog!

  57. Paul says:

    St. Stanislaus in South Bend, IN had the strangest thing I have ever seen (but which several other people reported here): after the priest washed the feet (mostly old women), they set up chairs all over the church and anybody who wanted to came and washed whomever’s feet. Apparently this church (we’re not regular parishioners there) does it that way every year. Very odd (but not CSC priests, for the record).

  58. Noel says:

    I know Fr Z derogates further discussion BUT such widespread and flagrant flouting of the rubric and instruction is a scandal. I had believed it to be sporadic! Surely it’s better to dispense with the ceremony if you can’t get twelve good men and true? DO THE RED!

  59. Sandy says:

    Men and women, I didn’t expect otherwise :( What really saddens me, is that these days there is no mention of the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood; further blurring the distinction between the ordained and the laity.

  60. Charivari Rob says:

    1 woman, 1 boy, 10 men.

    Crucifix shrouded (more like a pall or stole than wrapping). A Holy Family statue usually more evident had been removed to somewhere. E.P. #1. The entire congregation fell in behind the procession to the altar of repose.

  61. priest up north says:

    Did twelve men here…many are unaware that there is a very explicit connection to ordination in this ritual, given away by Simon Peter’s original hesitance to have his feet washed, and then his later response “not just my feet, but my head and hands as well” (which harkens back to Moses’ washing of the priests with water in Exodus 40:12 and Leviticus 8:6) Jesus, in showing a model, is not giving a mere model for social action. He is giving a model of the new eternal priesthood of self-sacrificing love (a.k.a. the priesthood of Christ, which shall not pass away).

  62. Sad Church Goer says:

    Men only – the pastor and deacon washed the men’s feet.

    Electric piano and guitars. Loud and raucous music rehearsal for 45 minutes before the start of Mass, 5 minutes of silence. You can image what the music was like with an electric piano and guitars, the sound was booming and echoing off the walls. I carry ear plugs to our masses as do others in the community. Too loud? Too bad is the answer.

    Altar was not stripped.

    People encouraged to stay and talk to Jesus for an hour – and many did just that – stayed and talk to “Jesus in the neighbor” sitting next to you. The “welcoming” church welcomes all but Jesus in the Blessed sacrament. Surprised they did not offer refershments – well they did but you had to step out to the portico – self service.

  63. JR says:

    One might think that even if the rubrics didn’t specify men only, our bishops and priests would have the good sense not to invite women, and especially children. Good Lord. When there are so many examples of clerical disregard for liturgical law, is it any wonder that so many Catholic lay persons disregard liturgical law and Church doctrine? Carelessness for the rubrics is a symptom of a grievous disease.

  64. k3vin k! says:

    Fr. Rutler washed the feet of some 10 or so men. Half were young men – college, young professionals, I guess – and the others were older gents. To my mind it was a nice image of the hopeful future and mature present of the parish.

  65. Seminarian says:

    In our seminary, St Patrick College Maynooth, Ireland, we had both male and female.

  66. Edward Martin says:

    We had a mixture of men and women. I could complain, but our priest is probably the most traditional in the diocese. He has also been open to correction in the past, which is a blessing. As he stated when he was corrected on the removing the holy water during Lent, “it was just what we always did”. Can you imagine what is taught in many seminaries?

  67. PF says:

    Worse this year! I was invited to have my feet washed and declined very politely referring to the Missal. It irritated the lady who runs our parish, and she insisted that “we were following the guidelines of the USCCB” and suggested I checked their website. We had a very lengthy homily about the importance of foot washing as an expression of our charity for each other. Jesus gave us several models : The Our father for prayer, the Eucharist, and the washing of the feet for expressing charity, and He asked us to do it to each other. Foot washing was not a custom in Jesus’ time but He did it anyway. It is so important that we should all do it to each other at every Sunday Mass…and even at weekday masses. ( I am not exaggerating in any way, I promise!). Then 15 women and 2 men had their feet washed by the pastor, they were all having a good time, lots of conversation and giggling.)
    We have a new bishop, let’s pray that next year will be better!

  68. B Knotts says:

    We had twelve men. Our pastor can read rubrics.

    The priest washed the feet of six of them, and the deacon washed the feet of the other six.

    An aside…the priest, who is one of several who rotate duty at our small church, is one of the ten Holy Cross priests who signed the letter to Fr. Jenkins. I had an opportunity to thank him for his courage.

  69. Jeff says:

    What I find interesting is that people adhere strictly to the number 12, which granted has the symbolic value, but interestingly the rubric doesn’t mention a number. Yet what the rubric lays down people fell free to ignore. And shouldn’t it be 11 feet? Did Jesus wash the feel of Judas?

  70. KAREN MYERS says:

    At SFX located in Mobile, AL. The services were held according to canon laws. As stated by
    others it is hard to get 12 men to participate, so we only had 8 men. Bells rang through the
    Gloria, entire congregation did procession with incense. Altar stripped after Mass services.
    Parishioners were invited to remain after services to “visit” with Jesus and also to go to
    confession. It was really more in keeping with canon laws than it has been in the past.
    If you were in the “right frame of mind” it was really beautiful.

  71. Mary W says:

    The pastor and two other priests, I think, washed the feet of this year’s first communicants, children of various ages-seemed to be about 30 girls and boys. And of course before the Mass began we had to do the required Good Evening! And applaud all the first communicants like they were receiving sports trophies or something. It was a bilingual Mass-Spanish/English. The Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei were sung in both languages (don’t understand why they can’t use Latin in these circumstances). Sigh. Some creativity, but the Consecration was performed with reverence. Insipid hymns sung. Sigh. At the Mass’s end there at least was a procession from the altar to the tabernacle (tucked away at the side of the church, of course) with the remaining consecrated hosts, adoration until midnight. Surprise, surprise -we sang Pange Lingua throughout the procession. Father didn’t speak about the institution of Holy Orders tonight, the new thing during the homilies is how our Baptism makes us all priests.

  72. andrea says:

    Everyone in the building was invited to have their feet washed and then to wash the feet of others. Therefore, there were men, women and children having their feet washed and hugging all around afterward.

  73. Jim says:

    Men only, in Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic practice. Washing of feet of women is not based on the scriptures.

  74. SARK says:

    At St Joseph’s in Brussels.

    12 men’s right feet washed, dried and kissed and by our holy priest.

    Very humbling! Very moving!


  75. tzard says:

    12 men – only one of them was a young man (I think he is one of the candidates from RCIA).

    In difference from previous years (other parishes) – there was no announcement of why these particular men were chosen. (as if there was no desire to make a “statement” other than the one Jesus made).

    The whole thing took 4 minutes (as measured by the length of the song).

  76. Jason says:

    Mixture of men and women at Blessed Sacrament in Seattle. There might have been more women than men, I am not quite sure…it appeared that way from my seat in back of the church.

  77. RichR says:

    Why are we quick to shoe humility before the feminists but slow to show humility before the Church?

  78. Berthold says:

    The Abbot of Einsiedeln (one of the main monasteries of Switzerland) wanted to wash the feet of six men and women who had recently taken part in a big demonstration against the Holy Father, and of six who went instead to a prayer gathering supporting him (the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, clear in its commitment to St Peter and his successors, had decided to ask that abbot to deliver greetings from them at both occasions!). According to his sermon on Maundy Thursday (http://dsb.z-online.ch/DSB_News_03_Shw.asp?PublisherID=Kloster-Einsiedeln&KundenID=Kloster-Einsiedeln&VKundenID=Kloster-Einsiedeln&SprID=1&anchor=TOP&IsPopUp=1&Level=3&MdtID=0&NFP=00101&NoNavigation=1&NwsID=227095&PM=1&Reload=0&ShowHome=0, if anyone wants to read or translate the German), washing them the feet together should express both the necessary pluralism in the Church and the need for democratic reforms! The only good thing is that the orthodox catholics decided not to show up for this bizarre spectacle, so that the abbot could lament in his sermon the fact that six chairs had remained empty!

  79. Biff says:

    Prediction: Women will contunue to have their washed until an indult is granted. It will then become, de facto, an all female event.

  80. Ron says:

    Three men, two women, one girl. Very warm water, so no “jumpers” this year. No more “anyone can wash, anyone can be washed.” More prayerful this year. Both feet for each person. Male adult emcee was very good, altar server female high school sophomore, very good. Prayer After Communion, insensation, reposition procession very smooth, very solemn. Display of oils before mass at church entrance with inclusion of same during procession of gift bearers. Chrism in this diocese very strong with balsm this year, the aroma permeated the church merely from pouring from transfer containers to the crystal ampullae. Bishop quite generous with the balsm this year (was at Chrism mass), about a cup and a half in each of six very large ampulae. Did not get to talk/visit with parishioners in Gathering Room after either Lord’s Supper or Celebration of Passion, since for us both of those end in prayerful vigilant silence and I was in a pew at the end of each.

  81. Erin says:

    The Archbishop of Washington washed the feet of both men and women (six of each).

    Considering he’s the Archbishop, I very much doubt this violated the rubrics.

  82. Humilitas says:

    How’s this for balance?

    7 women & 5 men.

    I just got back from the Good Friday services at my local NO church.

    The NO Deacon presided at the entire service. Please clafify if an ordained priest should preside with the assistance of the deacon or is it ok for just the deacon to preside.

    I wish we had a traditional Holy Thursday and Good Friday. But at least we have a traditional Latin EF Mass every Sunday at another church. Thank you FSSP.

  83. Humilitas says:

    Sorry for the mis-spelling in my post. The word should be clarify.

  84. Fr. WTC says:

    I celebrated the mandatum at 7:30 A.M. outside of Mass conjoined to a communion service for those who could not attend Mass in the evening. Lots of Latin music. A very nice morning service.

  85. Jesus chose 12 men, we have enough confusion in the Church today, without adding more. I wash only men’s feet. We are not excluding women, we are following Our Lord’s command. There are other things women can “participate” in. They can present the gifts, serve as readers, help keep the sanctuary clean, launder the altar linens, etc…

  86. Stitchwort says:

    Yesterday Father washed the feet of 3 men and 3 women (I mentioned before “deeply entrenched parish customs”) but that was it. Tabernacle was empty beforehand. Homily was excellent. Mass was said reverently. Father used the 1st Eucharistic Prayer, and included the full list of saints’ names. (Big grin) Procession to the altar of repose was dignified; choir sang “Pange Lingua” in English, but before that they sang “Ubi caritas” in Latin! (Apart from Benediction, I think that is the first time I’ve heard Latin used in this parish.)

    I wasn’t able to attend the Good Friday service last year so I don’t know what happened then, but today Father used a crucifix for the veneration of the Cross–the first time I’ve seen a crucifix instead of a plain cross for at least 10 years.

    Dare I say “brick by brick”?

  87. Doug Gates says:

    12 children of both sexes.

  88. cuaguy says:

    We had 12 men, and one of them was a deacon here.

  89. IvoDeNorthfield says:

    In my parish: men and women, sitting on metal folding chairs. I’ve long given up on the idea that there are any real standards for the Novus Ordo. Consider the typical parish: Gather hymnal, cloth banners, no statues or paintings, bare brick walls, gigantic plus sign in place of a crucifix, holding hands at the our father, all the reverence and mystery of a town hall meeting or a visit to the shopping mall. In such a very typical place it just seems futile for a parishioner to expend political capital insisting that the pastor and liturgy committee correctly interpret and apply the “viri selecti” rule.

  90. leah says:

    At the TLM I attended there was no footwashing.

    However, talking to some local priests who were to celebrate the Novus Ordo, at least 2 were planning on continuing to IGNORE the rule about men only.

    One priest tried to give the argument that he didn’t want to alienate the supportive women in the Church by denying them the opportunity. Sad “logic”…

    In the past, when I went to my childhood parish, everyone and anyone from the entire congregation was invited to have their feet washed.

  91. Girgadis says:

    12 men were selected prior to the Mass to come forward, which they did 6 at a time.
    And our pastor made use of our altar rail and urged everyone to at least consider
    receiving on the tongue. No female altar servers, and no EM’s. Proof that even with having only 1 priest, the Mass will not last an eternity if there are no EM’s at Communion. And the consecration
    was said in Latin, which Father announced ahead of time. And a beautiful procession
    after Communion to place the Ciborium in the repository, followed by Adoration. At one of the churches I later visited, the parish’s Knights of Columbus were keeping watch and in unison, they would periodically kneel and pray together for various intentions. I did not stay that late but I’m told they kept watch until midnight.

  92. chloesmom says:

    Last night: twelve kids from the Confirmation class (male and female). All casually dressed — no cassocks or robes, except the servers. Couldn’t really see all that clearly from our pew (I’m short, and there were taller people — who came in after we did — sitting in front), but I think there was a little kerfuffle which sounded as if someone dropped something. Nerves, perhaps. The 3 PM service today featured solo organ music at one point- IIRC, not in the rubrics– plus, the music at Communion was an original composition by one of the choir members. It was overdone — synth strings, singers over-miked — and the pastor mentioned it at the end of the Service. For one horrible minute, I was afraid there’d be applause, but thank God didn’t happen. At Mass these days I generally ask the Lord to switch off my “inner critic” which if left unchecked detracts from worship, and certainly doesn’t do my soul any good…

  93. rachel says:

    At Immaculate Conception, Jacksonville, Florida only 12 men had their feet washed (one of them was my brother). The Mass itself was bilingual (actually it was trilingual since they sung the Gregorian ordinary). There was as small procession of the Blessed Sacrament after the Mass and everyone was encouraged to make a holy hour in front of the altar of repose. The only thing I wish they had done is strip the altars after the Mass.

  94. Biff says:

    A St. Monica’s, Helen the DRE, didn’t even remove her hose.

  95. AuroraChristina says:

    K3Vin k!, Oh how I long to make a pilgrimage to your church. God bless and preserve Father Rutler.

    In my parish hundreds of men, women and children had hands washed by two priests.

  96. Joshua says:

    I attended Mass at a nearby monastery of Carmelite nuns; no feet were washed.

  97. Frank H. says:

    At our parish in the Columbus, Ohio, suburbs…

    Five women, one man. One of the younger women, (a high schooler) had an inappropriately short skirt on, and sat less than demurely in the chair facing the congregation. What can her parents have been thinking?

    Balanced by the celebrant chanting the Gospel, and saying the rarely heard Roman Canon.

    And, much to my surprise, the usually chatty congregation was quite silent during the procession to the altar of repose.

  98. Karen says:

    I was a bit disappointed that our new priest (who recommended this blog) went with women, teens and men. Here’s hoping he didn’t want to stir the pot too soon in his new position but by next year will make things right.

  99. Boots says:

    At the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, my parish in Arlington VA, there was no foot washing. There was however a great deal of beautiful singing by our choir. All of it in LATIN! Pane Lingua was just great.

    Andrew, I’m an architect I have a great proposal worked up for a properly ordered church for St. John’s in McLean. Pop into my blog at beatusest.blogspot.com. I should be posting it up soon along with some other thoughts about church architecture.

  100. Sangre Azul says:

    Only men. A woman, that was in the first chair (this isn’t the corect word) was expulsed (with amability, of course) and arrived twelve men (it was hard to join 12 volunteers). The priest didn’t touch any foot, the “acólito” (with a towel) did it.
    Sorry for my horrible english.

  101. Jared says:

    This year the rite was not done, but LAST year…

    EVERYone washed the feet of the person next to them in a large plastic tub.

  102. JimB says:

    Washing of the feet of both men and women has been the practice at my parish for more than 20 years. This year, our new pastor (celebrating his first Triduum at our parish), did it differently. Two chairs, rather than the usual 12, were set up in the Sanctuary and the selected parishoners lined up. After each person’s foot was washed they vacated the chair for the next person (think shoe shine stand in a bus terminal). But they were not finished. Each was handed a pitcher and a basin and dispatched into the congregation to wash the feet of others, including in one case a baby in a stroller. It seemed very gimmicky and the people wandering all over the Church with basins of water detracted from the solemnity of the rite.

  103. Antiquarian says:

    At the US Naval Academy– 12 Midshipmen, all male (which is not redundant– females are also referred to as “Midshipmen.”) Lovely candlelight procession to the altar of repose with Pange Lingua sung in Latin, adoration afterwards and lots of people were still there praying when I left.

  104. JaneC says:

    I went to a Russian Catholic parish last night. There was no footwashing. After Divine Liturgy, we had dinner, and then went back to the church for Good Friday Matins. I guess no one would come if they did Matins in the morning or at midnight, so they settled for doing it after dark, and it was very beautiful.

  105. Laura Lowder says:

    At the Mass I attended – an EF Mass – only males. I was deeply disappointed to learn, yesterday, that my own pastor was going to be washing the feet of six men and six women. Usually he is pretty spot on with such things.

  106. Nerina says:

    In our church three foot washing “stations” are set up. Then parishioners are invited to line up at the stations to have their feet washed by other parishioners. The priest washes one foot and then that person washes the next foot and so on.

  107. ealber says:

    12 men. Didn’t expect anything different from an SSPX chapel.

  108. Mary Ann says:

    No foot washing during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper last night at our parish. Until Fr. H. arrived just over three years ago I thought it was mandatory…I have learned so much from him. We love our pastors, Fr. H. & Fr. D.!! You too, Fr. Z.!! Happy Easter.

  109. Sid Cundiff says:

    Extraordinary Form in Dunn, NC. Only men. Twelve of them.

  110. Bede says:

    In a tiny little parish in Tacoma Washington, we had twelve men, right feet only. OF.

    The pastor just celebrated his 65th year as a priest, and we thank God for him daily.

  111. Heather says:

    12 men. Last man to arrive gets to be Judas ;-)

    Father washes, dries, then kisses the foot.

  112. Gloria says:

    At St. Stephen’s Sacramento (FSSP) it was all say the black, do the red in the EF. It was a solemn high liturgy at 7pm. After a short homily following the Gospel the celebrant, assisted by deacon and subdeacon washed the feet of twelve altar boys of all ages. Off subject a bit – I wish I had a picture of the glorious altar of repose in the gym, and of the overflow crowd attending the liturgy.

  113. Alessandro says:

    Men at St. Johns in Stamford

  114. Scott says:

    At St Mary of the Angels in Wellington New Zealand, We had Men and Woman with some priest getting there feet washed.
    At my old parish in Blenheim, we would have anyone get up and wash there feet, the whole thing would go on and on for ages as people would jion in the fun to get their feet washed. The rite is at its most beautiful when it is done simply and with reverence.
    As an aside the only major disappointment I saw this year was at the dispensing of Holy Communion when the sanctuary had a number of priest and still lay ministers were used.

  115. roxanne says:

    12 young (teen-college) males. The results of the poll are surprising and sad to me.

  116. Robert says:

    Mixed sexes at my N.O. parish – again.

  117. Dan says:

    At St. Joseph’s in Richmond, VA (extraordinary form parish for the Diocese of Richmond) we had a solemn High Mass for Holy Thursday, and Father, assisted by two priests in the roles of deacon and subdeacon for the Mass, washed the feet of the altar boys (all male, of course)

  118. shana sfo says:

    Father announced that anyone who felt like having ‘Jesus in the person of the priest’ wash their feet, to come up & sit in the designated chairs.

    I just closed my eyes and prayed so did not see who all went up.

    Better that way.

  119. Benedictus says:

    All men at my EF parish (ofc :) ). My father attended the local NO. 8 women, 4 men. Priest washed 6 of their feet, the Pastoral Associate washed the others..

  120. Carol says:

    Cardinal George, in Chicago. Men, women and a baby in pink(?).
    And then on the TV news for all to see!

  121. Vincent says:

    “Other body parts,” really? Doesn’t Jesus explicitly reject this in the Gospel?

  122. Jackie says:

    Here at St William in the Arlington diocese, 12 men all in suits, all got their right foot washed. It was nicely done. This year however we did have a change. Usually the priest washes 12 of the altar boys’ feet, but this year the new pastor switched to adult men. Is there a rule about the age or could this just be a pastor’s preference?

  123. Mary-Magdalene says:

    well…I was hoping….nope! won’t happen…what to expect when the bishop doesn’t do the right thing…

  124. Matt Q says:

    Jackie wrote:

    “Here at St William in the Arlington diocese, 12 men all in suits, all got their right foot washed. It was nicely done. This year however we did have a change. Usually the priest washes 12 of the altar boys’ feet, but this year the new pastor switched to adult men. Is there a rule about the age or could this just be a pastor’s preference?”


    Jackie, I think this may have been due to the scandals of late. It’s good to avoid anything which could possibly be construed as untoward. It is the pastor’s prerogative regardless, even like we’ve been talking, putting women up there to get their feet washed even though the Missal says Men Only! That’s one thing about the Novus Ordo crowd, they refer to the Missal to jack Tradition but flout it when Tradition is called for by the same Missal.

  125. Daniel Nekic says:

    Oops… Was this only open to NO attendants?
    I attended TLM and was pleased to see for the first time in my life only men having their foot washed. I was also pleased to see a very devout boy have his washed too.

    Might I also add that the procession was beautiful, with a very pretty canopy. I had never seen that before, having only attended NO Maundy Thursday Mass.

  126. tradsem says:

    12 men and women, boys and girls of all ages
    one of the catechumens

    though at my home parish, 12 Knights of Columbus

    should “boys” be included in “duodecem viri”?

  127. Paula in MN says:

    We were visiting St. Joseph Catholic Church in Milford, Iowa. Absolutely beautiful building, recently restored. Father asked for volunteers to come up for the washing of feet. Not one man went up there. We were in the back and my husband and son started walking up the aisle but every chair was already filled with a woman. I really think Father should have asked for male volunteers.

  128. Christina says:

    Went to a parish we’d never been to before where a great young priest we know is the new curate. Some of the music left much to be desired, but there were 12 men having their feet washed, and 10 altar BOYS for the Mass and procession. Many of them had the lighted lanterns during the consecration and procession. Quite lovely.

  129. Robin says:

    At my home parish, my mother said that the pastor announced prior to the ceremony that he was using “lavender water”! Needless to say, this did not attract too many men – to be exact, one man was coerced into sitting there with two women.

  130. ssoldie says:

    What of the word ‘viri’ don’t they understand?

  131. Mary says:

    All males, one foot each, a change from two years ago. Last year I was at a different church, not my parish. In my parish, two years ago, we had a different pastor and he did the washing if I recall, *during* the reading of the Gospel. It was very strange. Incidentally, at the church I attended last year it was males and females I think. I am thanking God every day that we have a new, holy pastor who follows the rubrics.

  132. Debbie C says:


    While it would be absurd for a man to keep his black socks on
    while “symbolically” having his feet wash, do you really think
    it necessary that a woman remove her hoisery? C’mon!


  133. AnyMouse says:

    The rubric also demands the males be selected. The easiest way to achieve this to choose those who are newly fathers in the preceding year. It also helps remind the faithful that the liturgical foot-washing is something that a husband (as the head of the household) should repeat in the homes to his family.

    With foot-washing outside the liturgy, I think it was an issue of PAX (from the Benedictines of Prinknash Abbey near Gloucester) a few years back that a description of the foot-washing of pilgrims in Rome in 1842 (or some year about then). The writer described how cardinals washed the feet of male pilgrims, and the ladies of the upper classes washed those of the women — and she writes something like that she’d rather watch the lovely ladies than the hoary cardinals!

  134. Mattk says:

    Cathedral of St Joseph, Diocese of La Crosse, 12 men, Bishop Listecki kisses the foot of each man after washing.

  135. TJM says:

    I’m disappointed in Cardinal George. He did not set a good example. Tom

  136. Eileen says:

    My friend went to a service in the next town…..all of the teens washed the feet.
    The service I went to 10 women/two men washed by the priests of parish.
    Otherwise a very beautiful service. This issue needs to be addressed once and for all.

  137. Kradcliffe says:

    I say that I “saw” the feet of both men and women washed, but I didn’t actually see it, as I did not attend. What I saw were invitations in the bulletin to sign up for it, with no mention of it being men. This was at both parishes in my town that we attend.

  138. michigancatholic says:

    Didn’t go. Wish I could find a Holy Thursday mass where they skipped this part altogether.

    In my experience, most people get all hung up on the foot-washing theatrics (who’s in the in-crowd, what political view have we here, etc) and MISS THE POINT of the Mass entirely,which is, I believe, the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Correct me if I am wrong on this one, but I don’t think so.

    Besides, when women hoist their feet to have them washed, the view is not appropriate for liturgy. And the nylon hosiery etc etc is just ridiculous.

  139. Jordanes says:

    Like last Thursday I went to the cathedral for Maundy Thursday, and like last year, it was men only for the Mandatum. In past years they’ve washed women’s feet at my parish, but I don’t know if they still do it since I go to the cathedral on Maundy Thursday in part so as to avoid the possibility of witnessing that liturgical abuse, and also because the cathedral liturgy is always exquisitely done and in accordance with the rubrics, far outshining anything my parish ever does.

  140. Genevieve says:

    A few years ago when I still attended the Church that served as a mission to my university, the archbishop made a big point of reminding parishes that the feet washing was *men only.* So that year my university parish opted not to do a feet washing at all. Now that I’ve graduated and matriculated into the the only other Catholic Church in this college town, I was suprised to see men and women (and children) getting their feet washed.

  141. Jackie says:

    Matt Q- Our priests are totally orthodox when it comes to say the black do the red. I just did know if it was proper to have adult men and not altar boys.

  142. rosebudsal says:

    We had both men and women. Mass was solemn, reverent and beautiful, but it is always so at my NO parish.

  143. Amy in NJ says:

    we had only 9 men. But 4 years ago, we had a mix of men and women. I’m not sure why so many of the men who were approached were so reluctant to have their feet washed….

  144. “I’m not sure why so many of the men who were approached were so reluctant to have their feet washed….”

    Well my priest asked me, and I simply refused. I personally find the idea a bit icky, especially when you have to do it in front of so many people watching you. That said I think men are generally more averse to doing things in front of an audience. That’s why I think the vast majority of lectors, altar servers and EMHC are women.

  145. Beth Quinn says:

    I don’t know a rubric from a Rubic’s Cube but I think washing
    women’s feet could be a distraction given the way we customarily
    adorn them. And, the difficulty of pulling hoisery up over wet
    feet would prompt many to leave them on. I doubt many men are this

  146. Linda says:

    Here in the South, men frequently have their hands washed but the washing of the feet is an all female affair and they show up with hoisery and/or with rings and painted nails.

    It’s a big deal ” an’ they ain’t gonna give it up! “

  147. A Random Friar says:

    Odd that a “mandatum” should be such a source of disobedience.

  148. Dominican says:

    In our monastery we have the mandatuum BEFORE the Mass in the Chapter Hall. This is an ancient monastic custom. It is very humbling to have your prioress wash and kiss your feet. Surprisingly in the old 1860 Ceremoniale after the foot washing the prioress washed everyone’s hands! I’m glad we don’t do that anymore; I would feel like Pilate!

    It is really sad that this moving ceremony which has such deep meaning has become such a point of disobedience and controversy. One of the themes of the Mass of Holy Thursday is that of unity which can only be found in the Holy Eucharist. And instead this feast has become a source of so much disunity.

    I would never have my feet washed at Mass since the rubrics require men and not women but I must admit that I love our monastic ceremony. Usually new sisters are stunned to tears the first few years when they experience it.

  149. Chris says:

    We were blessed to have all men here. In fact, they were all dressed in costume (robes, towels (as head-dress), sheets, wooden staffs, sandals (most of them)) as the 12 Apostles and seated in the first pew. Fr. G had them sit up front at the start of the homily, and integrated their presence (and the institution of holy orders at the Last Supper) into his homily. Last year there was a mix, so I don’t know how he managed to sell this to the liturgical committee, but it certainly was an excellent catechesis! [I know Fr. G reads your blog, so if he sees this… well done!]

  150. Paula says:

    Men and women–the parish council members and the confirmation candidates. I didn’t know it was supposed to be men only until I started reading this blog.

  151. mfg says:

    At my new TLM parish, 12 young men in their 20’s appropriately dressed for High Mass. What a relief after 10 years in a NO parish where there were only women having their feet washed: off putting and not a pretty sight. For the first Holy Thursday in a decade I didn’t have to deal with rage. I felt liturgically satisfied. We have a young Irish cleric who listened to his people, studied the Latin rubrics and liturgy and offers the TLM 3X a week very, very reverently. He has now changed his NO Masses to Ad Orientem, also very reverent. Brick by brick.

  152. CPT Tom says:

    at St Mary’s Church in Corning, we had the Priest give a homily essentially justifying why they were about to have the priests and deacons wash the feet of several men and women AND then have those people wash other people’s feet. The result? Only 20 people of the 500 assembled went up to have their feet washed. I really hope this is the last year this goes on.

  153. Jon says:

    Here in the Diocese of Venice, Florida, it is women and men; emphasis always on “community”; as in, “Welcome to St. [name] Catholic Community”.

  154. Biff says:

    Does any one know what “Cardinal Sean” did this year in Beantown?

  155. ekurlowa says:

    This year this rite vas omitted, last years always were men.

  156. Biff says:

    That’s good.
    I was there a couple years ago and he made a point to choose both.

    Brick by brick

  157. Beth Quinn says:

    Is there a definative answer on this?

  158. Jayna says:

    We got men, women and children. I asked about it last year and was told that the archbishop apparently has the authority to say whether or not anyone other than men could have their feet washed.

  159. EJ says:

    At the Mass my husband and I attended, the pastor washed the feet of 12 altar boys. (Thankfully, this is how it has always been at our Parish.)
    At my mother-in-law’s parish, the priest washed the hands of 12 parishioners (both male and female).
    And at my sister-in-law’s parish everyone in the congregation washed each other’s feet (including a 5 or 6 year old girl washing the priest’s feet).

  160. Jon says:

    I have a question.

    I know the rubrics say “vir”, which means male, and therefore only men are to have their feet washed. I don’t have any problem with that.

    However, if Jesus washing the feet of His disciples on the first Holy Thursday means that only men can have their feet washed, does it not follow that only men may receive the Eucharist as only men did so at the first Lord’s Supper?

  161. Sacristan Ricardo says:

    Well…I find this all rather annoying!!

    Our Parish had 12 “men” and has never admitted women to have feet washed.

  162. Bobby J says:

    No Jon, it only means that only men can be bishops.

    But who’s paying attention?

    At St. Joan’s Catholic Community, only women had their feet washed. The pastor tried rationalizing this with the usual stuff but, to be honest, I just rolled my eyes and closed my ears. When the boss gets back from book club I’ll know if her girlfriends removed their stockings.

    What a farce this has become.

  163. Penitent says:

    This year they washed the feet of the First Communicants (7 year old children both male and female). Last year was all men. The year before the ritual was not observed.

  164. therese b says:

    Last Sunday I overheard the priest asking the woman in front of me. I therefore went somewhere where the priest knows the rubrics. I think that’s called voting with your feet.

  165. B. J. Pfeiffer says:

    In Newark, women over 60 are pretty much the norm.

    It’s usually the same who are EMHC

  166. Matt says:

    We just randomly had whoever felt like it come up to get their feet washed, 3/4 of them washed by laypeople (including a lay female) ARGH

  167. BlackFriar says:

    Magdalen said:

    “The Eucharist was removed before Mass…should It not be removed after? And there is no veiling in our parish.”

    It depends what you mean, Magdalen. The rubrics require that the tabernacle be empty before Mass: it is, after all, a Mass celebrating the institution of the Eucharist. After Mass there is the solemn procession with torches and incense carrying the newly consecrated Sacrament from the altar to the place of reposition – which could be the usual tabernacle, but is more often another, even temporary tabernacle. It all depends on the layout of the Church.

    As for the veiling, the Conference of Bishops has the authority to decide whether this is done in the last two weeks of Lent. After Holy Thursday Mass, crosses are to be removed from the church. Any that cannot be removed are to be veiled. That’s the NO rubrics, anyway (slightly condensed.)

  168. Banjo pickin' girl says:

    Interesting, at my NO parish it was the feet of priests and altar boys only that were washed (only altar boys in this parish). and the homily stressed that Maundy Thursday was about the institution of the priesthood, not merely a Passover meal commemoration. We must be very old hat indeed.

    We also use the clacker.

    Communion kneeling at the rail too.

    I think we are the only parish in the diocese like this.

  169. Larry says:

    We (my family) spent the Triduum visiting my wife’s family in the Texas Hill Country. We attended a Parish in a small town just outside San Antoinio, where the following was presented:

    The Priests and/or Deacons did not wash feet,
    Members of the Lifeteen group, male and female, set up stations all around the Sanctuary (no Tabernacle!),
    and proceeded to wash the feet of the vast majority of the congregation, male, female, and children.

    My wife and I were fairly aghast, although we knew it to be this way going in. We attended this church, over my objections, due to my wife’s desire not to offend her sister and brother-in-law, who are deeply involved in this church, and who saw nothing wrong with this presentation.

    We won’t ever go back again. Oh, and on Friday, they also had the lifeteen group present the Passion in mime!

    On the plus-side, this Church does have a new Vicar from SOLT who is trying mightily to change the direction of the Parish from its current state.

  170. my kidz mom says:

    Here in Phoenix AZ at St. It’s All About Us Catholic Community, twelve chairs are set up around the altar. The footwashee’s name is announced together with a brief commercial for the ministry which he/she represents. Then the congregation is invited up to received a party favor, a small rolled up white washcloth.

    After enduring one too many years of this disgrace, this year we finally shook the dust from our sandles.
    Found a more respectful Catholic church 30 minutes away. Six men, reverently done.

  171. Don says:

    The usual mix of men and women, each representing one of the parish ministries. Two priests concelebrating washed 12 feet each. To add insult to injury we had to endure the singing of that Weston Priory ditty, “The Lord Jesus”

  172. Anastasia says:

    12 men – 2 priests; 2 deacons; 1 seminarian; 5 laymen

    This was a wonderful change from the last few years when it went from 6 men followed by 6 women and then for a couple of years 12 men and 6 men. I was impressed by this change as we had one year where there were foot washing stations through out the center aisle and lay people were washing feet.

  173. Karen Madden says:

    Out here, it just won’t happen if there aren’t both sexes available.
    Down in LA, appeals to Cardinal Baloney fall on deaf ears.

    So it will be till Rome gets serious and means what it says

  174. Sharon says:

    I’ve been having my feet washed for over thirty years now. I imagine some members of the hirearchy would turn there nose up at the Blessed Mother, but would Jesus?

    This year, the pastor was very explicit in the bulletin that wearing pantyhose would be left to the discretion of the individual women.

    Enough said!

  175. wsxyz says:

    I’ve been having my feet washed for over thirty years now. I imagine some members of the hirearchy would turn there nose up at the Blessed Mother, but would Jesus?

    Well He didn’t wash her feet.

    And He also didn’t invite her to dinner.

  176. Brilliant WSXYZ:

    Who better than this most perfect creature? And He never
    even made her a deacon!

    We had 9 women locally and 3 token men but they were:
    a flight attendant, a hair dresser and an interior decorator. No joking!

    This thing with the women a the foot washing is just more of the same: See “Snubbed”

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