Archbishop to wash feet of the poor
The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced that he plans to wash the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday.
Maundy Thursday is traditionally the day when the Queen, who is the supreme governor of the Church of England distributes "Maundy Money" in a symbolic act of giving alms to the poor.
The ancient ceremony has its origin in the commandment to "love one another" that Christ gave after washing the feet of his disciples.
The act of footwashing itself however is not thought to have been performed by an archbishop at Canterbury at Easter since the Church of England split with the Roman Catholic Church 470 years ago.
But BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says Dr Williams will now discard some of his ceremonial robes - and carry a towel instead.
The Bishop of Salisbury, David Stancliffe, said that in a day of media images, such a symbolic act spoke more powerfully than words.
The Church of England has not yest confirmed that this would be the first official foot washing at the cathedral since the schism.
But Dr Williams' predecessor, Dr George Carey, did not perform the ceremony at Canterbury during his time in office.
Dr Williams has marked the start of Holy Week with a trip to Jerusalem to preach at the main Palm Sunday communion service in St George's Cathedral.
He is expected to meet fellow church leaders and representatives of local Christian communities.