Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Queen’s Maundy

Today, The Queen once again celebrated the wonderful English tradition of the Sovereign distributing the Maundy.  This year it occurred at Leicester Cathedral.  The Daily Mail has the usual abundance of photos and some interesting history.

The 90-year-old monarch traditionally hands two purses - one white and one red - to each person during the service. The red purse contains a £5 coin, commemorating the Centenary of the House of Windsor and a 50p coin commemorating Sir Isaac Newton. 

The white purse will contain uniquely minted Maundy coins, equating in pence to her age, as Her Majesty prepares to celebrate her 91st birthday on April 21. The coins, a ceremonial gift from the Sovereign, are legal tender but recipients normally prefer to retain them as a keepsake.

I imagine they do!  I’ve wondered what a special occasion it must be for those few who get to receive the Maundy.

The first monarch to take part in a Maundy Thursday service was King John, of Magna Carta and Robin Hood fame, who distributed gifts of clothes and money to the poor in Knaresborough in 1210. John was also the first to present the poor with silver coins and is recorded as having done so in Rochester in 1213. 

There’s much more interesting history at the link.  Do go read and gaze for yourself.  And have blessed Maundy Thursday.

1 comment:

Richard Brown said...

And until relatively recently (1701), the ceremony included washing the old peoples' feet as well. It's not just a quaint ceremony, it's an attempt at demonstrating the principles of John 13, and not allowing the monarch to get carried away with human notions of power. Queen Elizabeth 1 did it; QE 2 has managed to avoid it.