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Ceremonies of Holy Week

Maundy Thursday - Common Liturgy

Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum and is one of the most important commemorations of the liturgical year. In preparation for His Passion, Christ shares the Last Supper with His disciples. It is on this day that Our Lord instituted both the Mass with the Eucharist, and the priesthood "whereby He would renew, even to the end of time, the great Mystery He thus commands us to receive." (1)

After Our Lord finishes the Last Supper with His Apostles, the traitor Judas goes forth to trade his Master for 30 pieces of silver. Our Lord retires to the Garden of Gethsemane with His Apostles; His Agony there marks the beginning of His Passion. The Son of Man is taken captive and shall be delivered up to die and redeem the sins of mankind.


The following guide for Maundy Thursday is the common liturgy that lthe laity normally attended for Holy Week prior to the progressivist reforms of the '50s and '60s. Sources used and cross-checked were the The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger, the 1934 edition of the Liber Usualis (book of chants), and the 1945 St. Andrew Missal. For the complete liturgy, click here.

Hyperlinks are shown in blue to provide a traditional music of the ceremonies.

  1. Dom Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, vol. 6, p. 371. Loreto Publications.

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The Mass of Maundy Thursday uses white vestments, and two hosts are consecrated. One consecrated Host is taken by the Priest, while the other is saved for Good Friday. Good Friday permits no consecration, so the Host must be preserved from the day before.

The Mass

Nos autem gloriari...

Deus, a quo et Judas...

Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios...
(I. Chap. xi.)

Christus factus est...
Versicle symbol. Propter quod et Deus...

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem
(Ch. xiii)

Dextera Domini fecit...

Ipse tibi, quesumus...

Dominus Jesus postquam...

Refecti vitalibus alimentis...

As soon as the Mass is over, a procession takes place to bring the remaining consecrated Host to its resting place. There, the body of Our Lord will await Good Friday and be open to supplication by the faithful. During the procession the choir sings the well known hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas: Pange Lingua Gloriosi.

Upon reaching his destination, the priest places the chalice upon the altar and censes the Sacred Host, saying short prayers in silence.

The Stripping of the Altars

The altar is stripped of its cloths and ornaments and left barren to denote the suspension of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The altar is left in this state until Our Lord is risen again.

Ant. Diviserunt sibi...
Psalm 21
Ant. Diviserunt sibi...

End of Maundy Thursday


Blason de Charlemagne
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