In the Christian liturgical calendar, Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday is the feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday.
On this day four events are commemorated: the washing of the Disciples' feet by Jesus Christ, the institution of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot.
The celebration of these events marks the beginning of what is called the Easter Triduum or Sacred Triduum. The Latin word triduum means a three-day period, and the triduum in question is that of the three days from the death to the resurrection of Jesus. It should be noted that for Jesus and his followers a day ended, and a new day began, at sunset, not at midnight, as it still does today in the modern Jewish calendar. The Last Supper was held at what present-day Western civilization considers to be the evening of Holy Thursday but what was then considered to be the first hours of Friday. Its annual commemoration thus begins the three-day period or triduum of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, days of special devotion that celebrate as a single action the death and resurrection of Christ, the central events of Christianity.
Services held on this day typically include a reading from the Gospel account of the Last Supper, which includes Christ's taking bread and wine and, declaring them to be his body and blood, giving them to the Apostles. This day also stresses Jesus' washing of the feet of the Apostles at the beginning of the Last Supper, as recounted in the Gospel of John. At services on this day, a minister, priest, or lay leader(s) may wash the feet of some members of the congregation to commemorate Christ's actions and command. The Washing of the Feet is a traditional component of the celebration in many Christian Churches, including the Armenian, Ethiopian, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and United Methodist Churches, and is becoming increasingly popular as a part of the Maundy Thursday liturgy in many Anglican, Episcopal , Lutheran, and other Protestant churches.
In the Roman Rite liturgy, the Holy Thursday Mass recalling the Last Supper is the last Mass before the Easter Vigil. It usually includes a reenactment of the Washing of the Feet of the Apostles, and is followed by a procession taking the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose, and then by stripping of all altars except the Altar of Repose.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)