Moscow, April 15, Interfax – Patriarch Kirill will conduct an ancient ceremony of the Washing of Feet on the Holy Thursday for the first time in the recent history, the Moscow Patriarchate official website has reported.
This tradition originated from the Last Supper when Jesus Christ washed feet of His disciples as a sign of deep humility. To commemorate the Gospel event, many bishops wash feet to twelve priests or parishioners, though this practice is not obligatory and universal and every bishop can decide whether to do it or not. For example, when Patriarch Alexy was a primate, he did not perform the Washing of Feet on the Holy Thursday, while his predecessor Patriarch Pimen observed the tradition as well as Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod, who was Patriarch Kirill’s spiritual guide.
The root of this practice appears is found in the hospitality customs of ancient East. Today, several local Orthodox Churches and some dioceses of the Russian Church observe the rite as an ordinance.
Ordinance of foot washing first appeared in Jerusalem in the 6–7th century and was an attempt to stress visual symbolism of divine services celebrated on the Holy Thursday.