Holy Thursday Mass at the Last Supper or Maundy Thursday

Holy Thursday is the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, when he established the sacrament of Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion. It also commemorates His institution of the priesthood. The holy day falls on the Thursday before Easter and is part of Holy Week. Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast. Christ would fulfill His role as the Christian victim of the Passover for all to be saved by His final sacrifice.

The Last Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his Disciples in Jerusalem. During the meal, Jesus predicts his betrayal.

The central observance of Holy Thursday is the ritual reenactment of the Last Supper at Mass. This event is celebrated at every Mass, as party of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but it is specially commemorated on Holy Thursday.

He also establishes the special priesthood for his disciples, which is distinct from the "priesthood of all believers." Christ washed the feet of his Disciples, who would become the first priests.

This establishment of the priesthood reenacted at Mass with the priest washing the feet of several parishioners.

During the Passover meal, Jesus breaks bread and gives it to his Disciples, uttering the words, "This is my body, which is given for you." Subsequently, he passes a cup filled with wine. He then says, "This is my blood..." It is believed those who eat of Christ's flesh and blood shall have eternal life.

During the Mass, Catholics rightly believe, as an article of faith, that the unleavened bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ through a process known as transubstantiation. There have been notable Eucharistic miracles attributed to this event, such as bleeding hosts (communion wafers).

The Last Supper is celebrated daily in the Catholic Church as part of every Mass for it is through Christ's sacrifice that we have been saved.

On the night of Holy Thursday, Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament takes place where the faithful remain in the presence of the Eucharist just as the Disciples kept a vigil with Christ.

Following the Last Supper, the disciples went with Jesus to the Mount of Olives, where he would be betrayed by Judas.

The Last Supper has been the subject of art for centuries, including the great masterpiece by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The cup used by Jesus is known as the Holy Grail. Although it has been rumored to exist throughout history, it is almost certainly lost to time. There is no reason to believe the cup would have been outstanding in any way, and was likely a typical drinking vessel, indistinguishable from many others. Still, many myths continue to revolve around the artifact, and it remains a target for treasure seekers and a subject of entertainment. There is an incalculable abundance of art and tradition surrounding the Last Supper which has been celebrated by Christians since the last days of Christ until now.

At every hour of every day, somewhere around the world, Mass is being said and Communion taken. This has been happening incessantly for at least several hundred years. For nearly the past two thousand years, not a single day has gone by without a Mass being celebrated in some fashion. Therefore, anyone who celebrates the Mass participates in a daily tradition that is essentially two thousand years old.

During Lent, we should; live as children of the light, performing actions good, just and true - (see Ep 5:1-9).

Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostri Iesu Christi, 
in quo est salus, vita et resurrectio nostra per quem salvati et liberati sumus. 

We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, 
our life and our resurrection; through Him we are saved and made free. (cf. Galations 6:14)

Entrance Antiphon for Holy Thursday

HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil. It celebrates both the institution by Christ himself of the Eucharist and of the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood (as distinct from the 'priesthood of all believers') for in this, His last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover, He is the self-offered Passover Victim, and every ordained priest to this day presents this same sacrifice, by Christ's authority and command, in exactly the same way. The Last Supper was also Christ's farewell to His assembled disciples, some of whom would betray, desert or deny Him before the sun rose again.

On Holy Thursday there is a special Mass in Cathedral Churches, attended by as many priests of the diocese as can attend, because it is a solemn observance of Christ's institution of the priesthood. At this 'Chrism Mass' the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation. The bishop may wash the feet of twelve of the priests, to symbolize Christ's washing the feet of his Apostles, the first priests.

The Holy Thursday liturgy, celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown, also shows both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water (a symbol of baptism) in the Mandatum, or washing in Jesus' washing the feet of His disciples, and in the priest's stripping and washing of the altar. Cleansing, in fact, gave this day of Holy Week the name Maundy Thursday.

The action of the Church on this night also witnesses to the Church's esteem for Christ's Body present in the consecrated Host in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain 'entombed' until the communion service on Good Friday. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.

And finally, there is the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas.

There is such an abundance of symbolism in the solemn celebration of the events of Holy Thursday layer upon layer, in fact that we can no more than hint at it in these few words. For many centuries, the Last Supper of Our Lord has inspired great works of art and literature, such as the glorious stained glass window in Chartres cathedral (above), Leonardo's ever popular (and much imitated) Last Supper in the 16th century, and the reminiscence called Holy Thursday, by the French novelist, Franasois Mauriac, written in the 1930s. (A chapter of Mauriac's meditation was reprinted in Voices, Lent-Easter 2002, with permission from Sophia Institute Press).

Family Activities for Holy Thursday

When you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord's death, until He comes again. 
I Corinthians 11:26

  • We have prepared a Christian adaptation of a Passover Seder, simple enough for use in families with young children. This special meal stresses the Christian significance of elements of the traditional Jewish Passover meal (seder) as it may have been celebrated in our Lord's time. It is neither a re-enactment of the Last Supper, nor a Jewish service. But we believe this festive family meal can be a very expressive way of helping young children to understand more about the historic origins of their faith as well as the importance of this day of Holy Week. (This is in the full edition of the Family Sourcebook for Lent and Easter.You may make photocopies of the service so everyone can have one.)

  • Maundy Thursday's emphasis on ritual washing also gave rise to the ancient tradition of spring cleaning, evidently related to the Jewish custom of ritually cleaning the home in preparation for the Feast of Passover. Everything was to be cleaned and polished in preparation for the Easter celebration. You can tell children about this tradition and ask to them to clean their rooms in order to observe Maundy Thursday. (Be sure to let us know if this works!)

  • Adults and children who are old enough to accompany their parents can return to Church after Mass for a period of Adoration. If this is not possible, candles can be lighted and special prayers could be said after returning from Mass and before bedtime. To give you some ideas, we have included suggestions for the Stations of the Cross.

Holy Thursday

Seder Dinner like Christ ate with the apostles

The Seder is a ritual performed by a community or by multiple generations of a family, involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This story is in the Book of Exodus.

Six Parts of the Seder Plate

Beitzah: The Roasted Egg is symbolic of the circle of life

It is also a symbol of spring - the season in which Passover is always celebrated.


Chazeret: Lettuce is often used in addition to the maroras a bitter herb. The authorities are divided on the requirement of chazeret, so not all communities use it. Since the commandment (in Numbers 9:11) to eat the paschal lamb "with unleavened bread and bitter herbs" uses the plural ("bitter herbs") most seder plates have a place for chazeret.


Zeroa: The Shankbone is symbolic of the Paschal lamb offered as the Passover sacrifice in biblical times. Some communities use a chicken neck as a substitute. Vegetarian households may use beets.


Charoset: Apple, nuts, and spices ground together and mixed with wine are symbolic of the mortar used by Hebrew slaves to build Egyptian structures. The sweetness represents freedom. The Mishna describes a mixture of fruits, nuts, and vinegar.


Karpas: Parsley is dipped into salt water during the seder. The salt water serves as a reminder of the tears shed during Egyptian slavery.

The parsley is a symbol of flourishing and the coming spring


Maror: Bitter Herbs (usually horseradish) symbolize the bitterness of Egyptian slavery.


Matzah: this unleavened bread was eaten by the salves while they were rushed out of Egypt

A Lesson in Love

The washing of feet that is now part of the Mass of the Lord's SupperThe washing of feet that is now part of the Mass of the Lord's Supper

The name ‘Maundy’ is derived from the Latin word ‘mandatum’, which means ‘commandment’.

From the 13th chapter of the Gospel of St. John we get both the story of the washing of feet and the mandate:

“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And during supper, when the devil had already put it 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 had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, ‘You are not all clean.’

When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 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 also should do as I have done to you.”

Towards the end of the chapter, Christ gives his disciples the mandate that gives Maundy Thursday its meaning:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Whether one believes Christ is God or not, the story and the commandment are still compelling examples of love through humility – master washing his servants’ feet, God serving his creation.


The Room of the Last Supper on Mount Zion, just outside the walls of the Old City ofJerusalem, and is traditionally known as The Upper Room.

The Cenacle is considered the site where many other events described in the New Testament took place, such as:

  • preparation for the celebration of Jesus' final Passover meal

  • the washing of his disciples' feet 

  • certain resurrection appearances of Jesus 

  • the gathering of the disciples after the Ascension of Jesus

  • the election of Saint Matthias as apostle

  • the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost.

The Last Supper Room is a second-story room in Jerusalem that commemorates the "upper room" in which Jesus shared the Last Supper with the disciples. It is located directly above the Tomb of David and near the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion.

Garden of Gethsemane & ​The Church of All Nations

The Church of All Nations, also known as the Church or Basilica of the Agony, is a Roman Catholic church located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, next to the Garden of Gethsemane. It enshrines a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. (Mark 14:32-42)


After the Last Supper:

After his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was taken before Caiaphas and other high priests of the Sanhedrin to be tried. It is generally agreed that the site of Caiaphas's Palace was where there is now a church known as

St. Peter in Gallicantu. 


Gallicantu is Latin for "cock's crow," referring to Peter's three denials of his connection to Jesus that were followed by the crowing of a rooster.

Three different churches have existed on this site, beginning with a Byzantine shrine built in the 5th century.

It was torn down in the 11th century during Muslim rule. The church was rebuilt by the Crusaders in 1102 and given its current name.

However, when Jerusalem changed hands again, it fell into ruin. It wasn't until 1931 that the present Catholic church was built.


Close-up of the mosaic seen in the arch above and a second one from another side of the church:


The first caption reads "The contempt of Caiaphas," and the second one says something about being held in a deep pit. Beneath the church there are caves from the Second Temple period where Jesus may have been held after his arrest. (More on the caves later.)

The church is on Mount Zion, a broad hill just outside the city walls. The Temple Mount is clearly visible in the distance:


The doors on the main entrance show the moment during the Last Supper when

Jesus (in blue) tells Peter (in red) that he will deny him three times before the cock crows:

The Latin inscription over the door translates: "May the Lord keep thy coming in and thy going out."


Jerusalem St Peter in Gallicantu


As Peter was waiting for Jesus to arrive, three different people questioned his connection to the captive, and each time Peter denied knowing Jesus.

It was at this point, just after Jesus had faced Caiaphas and his accusers, that Jesus turned and looked at Peter,

who must have felt that compassionate gaze burn into the depths of his soul. 

There is a statue in the courtyard showing Peter being confronted by two women and a soldier. Note the rooster at the top of the column.

Non novi illum = "I do not know him"


After being shifted back and forth between the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and Herod, Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion, and in the morning, he started carrying his own instrument of death to the place where he would die, which is very calculated psychological & torture . 


It is believed that Jesus entered the old city through the Lion's Gate, known as the Sheep Gate at the time:
Close-up of the lions that are on either side of Lion's Gate, placed there in 1517 by Suleiman the Magnificent


Last Supper Mass


Lift high the cross - Saint Michael's Singers

The Washing of the Feet
Ubi Caritas et Amor - Gregorian Chant for Maundy Thursday


Ave Verum Corpus  - Gregorian Chant for Maundy Thursday

Missa Jubilate Deo: Sanctus  - Gregorian Chant for Maundy Thursday

Mem'l Acclam. Save Us ICEL Chant Mass  - Gregorian Chant for Maundy Thursday

Missa Jubilate Deo: Agnus Dei  - Gregorian Chant for Maundy Thursday

What Wondrous Love us This  - Gregorian Chant for Maundy Thursday  ​

When You prayed beneath the trees - Linda Clark

Loving Lamb- Choral Excellence Trinitas

Pange Lingua

O Jesus We Adore Thee ( O Sacrament Most Holy ) - Adoremus 517

Tantum Ergo Sacramentum




Altar of Repose:

(Sometimes called less properly sepulchre or tomb, more frequently repository).

The Altar of Repose is the altar in which the holy eucharist is placed in "reserved", until the mass of Presanctified which is on Good Friday.

The holy eucharist tabernacle is open and empty. The altar where the Sacred Host, consecrated in the Mass on Holy Thursday, is reserved until the Mass of the Presanctified (Good Friday) on the following day. It is prescribed that the altar of repose be in the church and other than the one where Mass is celebrated. In the Mass on Holy Thursday two hosts are consecrated ; after the consumption of the first, the second Host is placed in a chalice, which is covered with a pall and inverted paten; over the whole is placed a white veil, tied with a ribbon. This remains on the corporal in the centre of the altar till the end of Mass, when it is carried in solemn procession to the altar of repose, there to remain in the tabernacle or in an urn placed in a prominent position above the altar. Individual churches vie with one another in rendering these altars of repose with their respective chapels ornate in the extreme, with rich hangings, beautiful flowers, and numerous lights. Catholic piety has made Holy Thursday a day of exceptional devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and the repository is the centre of the love and aspirations of the faithful. Mention of the altar of repose and the procession thereto is not found before the close of the fifteenth century. The reservation of the Consecrated Species in the Mass of Holy Thursday, spoken of in earlier liturgical works, was for the distribution of Holy Communion, not for the service on the following day.

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