Maundy Thursday Symbolic Elements

Maundy Thursday: The Triduum Begins

Maundy Thursday begins the Triduum, the most solemn three days of Holy Week and, in fact, of the Church year. The liturgy of Maundy Thursday commemorates some of the events of the last  evening of Jesus’s life as described in the four Gospels, including his Last Supper with his apostles. Therefore, the service of Holy Eucharist on Maundy Thursday recalls the institution of the sacrament of Holy Communion, which is recounted in the three Gospels attributed to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

Maundy Thursday Foot Washing 2018
March 29, 2018

The Gospel according to John provides another detail of the meal on that evening: Jesus washing the feet of his apostles. In most churches, including Trinity, foot washing is a central feature of the Maundy Thursday liturgy. 

In fact, it is that act of service to others by Jesus, which the apostle Peter first vehemently resisted, which leads a little later in the supper to the conversation that gives Maundy Thursday its name.

After Judas Iscariot leaves the room to complete the arrangements to betray Jesus to the authorities, Jesus says: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” The word maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, meaning command, and refers to Jesus’s new commandment.

Another liturgical act performed only on Maundy Thursday is the stripping of the altar, preparing the church and worshippers for the soon-to-come stark solemnity of Good Friday.

Maundy Thursday All-Night Vigil
The Chapel of All Saints at Trinity Church Wall Street

Like many churches, Trinity includes an all-night vigil with the Blessed Sacrament inside the Chapel of All Saints, recalling Jesus’s request to three of his apostles to keep watch with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Maundy Thursday Holy Eucharist at Trinity Church Wall Street at 6pm on April 14 includes in-person attendance in Trinity Church, will be live-streamed at, and is also available live on Facebook and on YouTube.