Valley Forge, PA“To wash someone’s feet teaches you humility. It is also a sign of welcoming and service. This act of kindness has been going on for thousands of years”, said Father Peter Thornberg as he addressed his parishioners at the end of church service.

Twelve members of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox church, symbolically represented the twelve Apostles, sat and removed their shoes and sox at the altar of the church. Father Peter Thornberg then washed each individual’s feet. Performed for the very first time at St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox church, the reenactment, is a religious rite observed by the Eastern Orthodox church.

John 13:1-17 mentions Jesus performing this act. Specifically, in verses 13:14-17, He instructs them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. It is the fifth day of Holy Week. the liturgy held on the evening of Maundy Thursday initiates the Easter Triduum, the period which commemorates the passion, death and resurrection of Christ; this period includes Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and ends on the evening of Easter.

In cathedrals and monasteries the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet is normally performed. When there is need to consecrate more chrism, that is performed by patriarchs and other the heads of the various autocephalous churches.

In the evening, after the Liturgy, all of the hangings and vestments are changed to black or some other Lenten colour, to signify the beginning of the Passion.