Pedilavium: the next phase

Via the often amusing ignatius his conclave:


The following announcement recently appeared in L’Osservatore Romano:

Radical changes are being made to the Rite of Pedilavium (Foot Washing).

Previously the rite was celebrated with twelve men on Holy Thursday. The Holy Father having now determined the significance of the rite – to ‘fully express the meaning of the gesture made by Jesus in the Upper Room, his gift of self until the end for the salvation of the world, his boundless charity’ – it has been decided that henceforward, in this Jubilee of Mercy, it will form a feature of every general audience.

The traditional requirement for twelve men will be discontinued as an impediment to the inclusiveness of the ceremony. People of all nationalities, religions and sexes are now encouraged to participate.

Applications are invited from marginalised or disadvantaged groups worldwide. Priority will be given to the differently abled. All applicants are respectfully reminded that they should have at least one functioning foot.


As a priest friend pointed out to me, it is unjustly discriminatory that at least one functional foot should be required!

Can double amputees not participate in the footwashing? What’s wrong with washing stumps?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. kay says:

    Jesus washed the foot of HIS followers.
    What does the Pope not get about the gestault of that gesture?

  2. It is my understand that amputees often have a “phantom limb.” In such cases one might pretend to wash the phantom foot with imaginary water.

  3. edm says:

    You almost had me there, Father. Good one!

  4. THREEHEARTS says:

    The first Pope and I mean the first Pope Peter I recognized immediately, as a Jew would, the symbolic washing of His feet when Christ explained it to him. In the Jewish belief entering anyone’s home feet were washed to remove the dust of the world. The dust symbolized the sin of the world. Peter demanded to be washed all over as then he would be sure of eternity with His Love Jesus Christ. It was a baptism which removed original sin and opened heavens doors. Read the whole scriptural story and think. It would seem that the State of grace that sanctified the intellect is missing amongst those who claim to know better.

  5. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “Previously the rite was celebrated with twelve men on Holy Thursday.” The rubrics never specified twelve. Just sayin’.

  6. Michael_Thoma says:

    Over and again the Latin Church publishes document after document on “solidarity” and “subsidiarity”. However, time and again, actions and encyclical conflict. Why is the Latin Church again innovating counter to the Eastern praxis? And even against its own Traditional practice? Is anyone foolish enough to think this will be enough to appease the extreme antiApostolic “feminists”? Who is being championed with this move?

  7. Laura R. says:

    When I first read this I thought it might be an early April Fool. Would that it were so —

  8. Mojoron says:

    Does this mean, the way I interpret it, can a non-Catholic be included with or without feet?

  9. Sieber says:


  10. Norah says:

    Is this a joke? I don’t want to waste a good rant on a joke!

  11. jfk03 says:

    The best solution is s simply to boycott the pedilavium where practice departs from tradition. Vote with one’s feet, that is.

  12. mschu528 says:

    @Dr Peters:

    My 1956 Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae clearly states (emphases mine):

    Duodecim autem viri selecti, facta reverentia altari ac celebranti, in presbyterio sedenti, disponuntur per sedilia…

    My 1920 Missal does not give such a number (though it specifies the Mandatum is done by a Prelate or Superior). So, at least for the better part of a decade, it was specified to be exactly 12 men.

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  14. excalibur says:

    Francis has already added kissing the feet to this. Where did that come from?

  15. excalibur says:

    Perhaps we need pedivalium?

  16. Christ_opher says:

    At times like this I’m glad that I am not a Priest and it’s a reminder to be grateful for our Priests.

  17. Andrew says:

    ‘Pedilavium’ is to be expunged from every dictionary. It is not a Latin word. Verbum e lexico expungendum!

  18. HeatherPA says:

    This “new” way is still optional, though, correct?
    Our priest uses Catholic males only.

  19. Peter in Canberra says:

    pede vacante?

  20. davidscottpringle says:

    Dr. Peters: Holy Church is built on traditions. Just saying.

    Question: The claim is that we all are children of the same God, thus the Pedilavium is open to all. Can an individual be a child of God if said individual denies Our Lord and the Holy Trinity? Or is relativism being put forward here in place of Truth?

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  22. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Herbert Thurston, on “”Washing of Feet and Hands” in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1912) makes lucid distinctions as he goes along, for example, “in Eastern countries the washing of the feet [being] almost everywhere recognized from the earliest times as a duty of courtesy to be shown to guests “; the “action of Christ”; “ecclesiastical writers, at least occasionally, applying to this ceremony the term Sacramentum in its wider sense, by which they no doubt meant that it possessed the virtue of what we now call a sacramental” prior to St. Bernard and his time; its apparent value as “testimony of good works” in the Apostolic Church on the basis of St. Pail to St. Timothy (1 Tim. 5:10); the Rule of St. Bendict enjoining “that the abbot and the brethren were to wash the feet of those who were received as guests”; the distinct “liturgical washing of feet [which] (if we can trust the negative evidence of our early records) seems only to have established itself in East and West at a comparatively late date”; the Maundy Thursday practice whereby in “the latter half of the twelfth century the pope washed the feet of twelve sub-deacons after his Mass and of thirteen poor men after his dinner.”

    Such poor Roman men and Benedictine guests – and, later, in royal pedilavium, as of 41 poor women by Queen Mary in 1555 – would presumably have been Our Lord’s baptized and so incorporated followers for the most part. Were they also formally required to be so? Would His creatures whom He sought to convert, perhaps in the form of foreign visitors (merchants, or emissaries, or whomever) have been excluded, or included, in the non-liturgical pedilavium?

  23. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Seriously, the foot-washing rite (I wince at the term being applied here at all), if it survives, will eventually morph into a sort of liturgical ‘public service announcement’–washing the feet of whomever best represents the cause du jour.

  24. pseudomodo says:

    And were those feet in ancient times
    Washed in an English mountain stream?
    And was the whole entire world
    Soaking their toes in tepid springs?

    And had we counted in that time
    On clerics laving calloused heels?
    And was there loosed on them kilted dears
    Throughout these dank and tarnished hills?

    Bring me my bowl of H2O!
    Bring me my towels clean and dry!
    Bring mean old men, like clods untold!
    Bring shrieking harpies sopped in mire!

    I will not nix monsignors right,
    Nor shall my sponge slip from my hand:
    Till we have cleaned those tootsies then,
    In England’s neat hygienic Land!

  25. Supertradmum says:

    Kings washed the feet of the peasants and the poor as a sign of servanthood.

    Lay men do not represent the priesthood of the apostles, anyway, only priests do.

    If people want a symbol of the foot washing of the apostles, the men should be priests.

    In medieval times, abbots washed the feet of the monks and abbesses washed the feet of the nuns, again signs of service, of humility.

    If lay men are to have their feet washed, it is logical to include other lay people as well, such as women and children….as the symbolism of the priesthood already has been set aside.

    Either drop it altogether, as it is optional, or have lay people in general. As a sign of the humility of the priest, that seems logical.

    I personally am for dropping it.

  26. cda_sister says:

    SMH…what’s next?

  27. Sri_Sriracha says:

    Please tell me this is satire…

  28. thomas777 says:

    Oh, its April the first of course this is an April fools day prank. Well done father.

  29. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    My apologies for “St. Pail” (a Freudian slip with all this water around? or just slipping from the adjoining key? – i don’t think my finger was slippery when wet…)!

  30. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    excalibur, noting “Francis has already added kissing the feet to this”, asks, “Where did that come from?”

    My guess would be St. Luke 7:38 (“coepit rigare pedes ejus, […] et osculabatur pedes ejus”) and 44-45 (“rigavit pedes meos […] non cessavit osculari pedes meos”), with perhaps glances at what Herbert Thurston calls “the normal salutation which papal etiquette prescribes for those of the faithful who are presented to the pope in a private audience” (in “Kiss”), and the Benedictine washing of the feet of those who were received as guests about which he says, “The act was a religious one and was to be accompanied by prayers and psalmody, ‘for in our guests Christ Himself is honoured and received’ ” (in “Washing of Feet and Hands”: both in the Catholic Encyclopedia).

  31. edm says:

    Brilliant! You had me singing it aloud and laughing! Thank you!!!

  32. Grumpy Beggar says:

    . . . Can’t help wondering what St. Matthias might make of all this.

  33. cl00bie says:

    I’m a traditional Catholic who loves the Extraordinary Form. I’m marginalized. Can I have my foot washed?

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