Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them (John 13:1-17).
Yesterday's post on His All-Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, performing the rite of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday sparked a good bit of interest and discussion both on this site and others. (A video of the full rite can be viewed here.) A number of people remarked that they had not realized that such a practice existed within the Orthodox Church. I know that the rite of the washing of the feet was performed by at least six hierarchs yesterday (not counting Patriarch Kirill): Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem (see the story in Russian here); Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia (see the story in Russian here); Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk (see the story here and the video here, both in Russian); Bishop Longin of Saratov and the Volga (see the story in Russian here); Bishop Joseph of Ivanovo and Voznesensky (see article in Russian here); and Bishop George of Mayfield. According to the story on Bishop Longin, the rite of the washing of the feet was established in Jerusalem in the sixth or seventh century.
The first photograph shows Patriarch Theophilos III performing the rite of the washing of the feet yesterday in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem:
Here is a photograph from the cathedral in Minsk, showing Metropolitan Philaret, Exarch of Belarus, washing the feet of his clergy yesterday:
Next are three photographs from the rite performed yesterday by Bishop Longin at the Church of the Protection in Saratov, Russia:
Here are two photographs from yesterday showing Bishop Joseph at the Transfiguration Cathedral in Ivanovo, Russia:
Finally, closer to home (for most), here are two photographs from the rite performed yesterday by Bishop George at the Hermitage of the Holy Cross in West Virginia:
I'd like to thank His Grace, Bishop George, for providing these photographs from the Hermitage. Donate to help support construction of his new residence!
Those who can read Russian will find both a description of the rite of the washing of the feet, as well as a history of the rite, here.