Thursday, March 24, 2016

Illuminated Manuscripts - The Last Supper

Manuscript European Bible (Ottheinrich) 15C p 85 The Last Supper

The Last Supper

1308-11 Duccio (Italian artist, 1255-1319) Washing of the Feet

Maundy Thursday refers to Jesus as a servant and calld for his followers to do the same. It also draws a connection between the Passover sacrifice, a Jewish tradition, & the imminent sacrifice of Jesus. The night before Jesus was crucified, he had a Passover supper with his disciples. (Passover is a Jewish holy day that celebrates God's deliverance of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt.) After supper, Jesus knew that this would be his final opportunity to instruct his disciples before the crucifixion, so he talked at length about his purposes, what his followers should do in response, and the promise of the Holy Spirit to come. He then washed his disciples' feet in a demonstration of humility and servant-hood. Finally, he gave bread and wine to his disciples and asked them to partake of it in remembrance of him. The act of partaking bread and wine is called Communion (or the Last Supper) today. 

The word Maundy (pronounced mawn-dee) comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means "command." The command that this holy day refers to is the one that Jesus gave to his disciples during the Last Supper: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. — John 13:34–35

The last meal Jesus shared with His disciples was the Passover meal. Jesus was the host: he washed the feet of His followers, & served them at the table. He broke bread with His betrayer, Judas; With His denier, Peter; with the "friends," who would sleep when He needed comfort & run, as he was facing death. Yet Jesus still ate with them, Prayed with them, sang a hymn with them. That meal Jesus over and gave them a new command:  "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. "

1308-11 Duccio (Italian artist, 1255-1319) The Last Supper

Footwashing & Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is the common name for Holy Thursday & marks the beginning of the 3 day celebration of Easter in the Christian church. It commemorates the day of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles & gets its name from the Latin word mandatum, which means "commandment."

Meister des Hausbuches (German painter active between 1470-1505)

Near the end of the Last Supper, after Judas had departed, Christ said to His disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

During the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples' feet. This act has sometimes been followed literally in history as a way of reminding rulers, that they are here to serve their subjects. In England, the custom of washing feet by the Monarch was carried out until 1689. Up until then the King or Queen would wash the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday in Westminster Abbey.  Throughout the 17th century, & earlier, the King or Queen would wash the feet of the selected poor people as a gesture of humility in remembrance of Jesus' washing the feet of the disciples. The last monarch to do this was James 2. The English ceremony of the monarch giving money to the poor on this day dates back to Edward 1.

The ceremony originated in the Roman Catholic Church inspired by the events that occurred during the night Jesus observed the Passover with his disciples. The symbolic washing of feet, which was begun around the 4th century, involved a bishop or cardinal washing the feet of the priests & acolytes. The abbot of a monastery would wash the feet of all the monks. While in Rome, the Pope would wash the feet of selected Cardinals. This was seen as fulfilling the mandate, that the greatest among the brethren will be the servant of all.