Russia Religion Subjects Jesus Christ The Washing of the Feet

The Washing of the Feet

During the Feast of the Passover, after the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, giving the world a new doctrine of mutual love: “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 basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded” (John 13:2–17).

 This text is traditionally read on Maundy Thursday of Passion Week, when the Russian Orthodox Church remembers Christ’s sufferings and death on the cross. Images of the washing of the feet were an important part of Passion festival icons. Christ wears a purple tunic and stands before the disciples, who sit on a bench in a semi-circle. Christ’s girdle recalls the deacon’s stole, symbolising meekness and the spiritual cleansing of humanity. The apostle sitting at the very bottom casts his glance at the bare feet of the Saviour in an evangelical image of the correct path, enclosing the round composition of the icon and conveying the idea of the spiritual unity of the people gathered together in the room.

Christ wipes the feet of Peter, who fails to understand the meaning of the scene and asks Jesus why He is washing his feet. Jesus replies that if He does not wash Peter, he will not become part of Him. Peter raises his right hand to his head, as if asking his Teacher to also clean his hands and thoughts. The other disciples are immersed in thought, reflectng on what has just been said. John converses with Matthew, Andrew lifts his feet in preparation and the other apostles are bent over.

This event had profound symbolical meaning, establishing the Christian virtues of meekness, kindness, love of one’s neighbour and respect for one’s elders. Images of the washing of the feet were traditionally regarded as a sign of particular hospitality.

Random articles