Documentation: Foot-Washing

Here is the full text of the Decree on the Washing of Feet:

Download (PDF, 92KB)

And here is the commentary published today in L’Osservatore Romano by Archbishop Roche of the Congregation for Divine Worship:

Download (PDF, 102KB)


  1. Interesting how the explanation states the Mandatum is not mandatory (then why call it a mandatum?) and that a small group of persons who are representative of the people are chosen. But when it was men only, it was 12 and everyone did it!

    1. @Lee Bacchi:
      All we read in John 13 is that it was “disciples,” not the Twelve, not men only. Perhaps we can assume because relatively modern culture (Leonardo among others, for example) paints a picture for us.

      It is curious that we take one of the Lord’s mandates quite seriously–the Eucharist. Yet Matthew 28:19-20 requires something “new.” And John 13:14-15 mandates washing one another’s feet, which is hardly ever done. Or the complaint is: too difficult, incongruent to modern culture, takes too much time, or too much hosiery. Such protests seem to echo Peter. Perhaps the passage needs some serious unpacking.

  2. A view on the real significance of Our Lord’s washing of the disciples’ feet and how far it can be part of the Holy Week liturgy
    is given in several recent articles by Professor Thomas O’Loughlin, of Nottingham University.

    [1] ‘The Washing of Feet: the Interplay of Praxis and Theology’. Anaphora 7/1(2013)37-46

    [2] ‘Celebrating the New Commandment: Foot-washing and Our Theology of Liturgy’. Scripture in Church 43 [169] (2013)

    [3] ‘From a Damp Floor to a New Vision of Church: Footwashing as a Challenge to Liturgy and
    Discipleship’. Worship 88(2014)137-150

    These and many other articles by Professor O’Loughlin are readily available on the website: see

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