Archbishop washes feet in physical sermon
The Archbishop of Canterbury has performed the ancient Maundy Thursday feet washing ceremony in Canterbury Cathedral for the first time in 400 years.
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.
This year however Rowan Williams also removed his outer robe ñ a yellow and orange chasuble ñ and wore his plain white alb to carry out the symbolic ablutions re-enacting Jesusís washing of the disciplesí feet at the Last Supper.
The Archbishop, assisted by chief clergymen, washed the feet of a dozen members of the congregation in a ìphysical sermonî during the service.
The chosen worshippers sat in chairs facing the rest of the congregation and removed various footwear, including red ladiesí pumps, trainers and sandals as well as their socks.
They then placed their feet in a patterned ceramic bowl, before lifting them to be dried with towels by the kneeling Archbishop.
Afterwards, as the Cathedral choir sang a motet, he bowed to the 12 members of the congregation before returning to his seat.
Aged between nine and 72, they were picked to represent the diversity of the regular members of the congregation.
William Pettit, 55 from Wingham, Kent, married his wife Denise in Canterbury Cathedral in 1992 and was one of those picked to have his feet washed.
He said: ìIt is sort of exciting because it is something that has not happened for 400 years. Itís nice to be in on the beginning of it.
ìYou think about the significance of it all ñ no service is too small for the highest in the land.î