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The "Washing of the Feet," on Holy Thursday, in St. Peter's


The "Washing of the Feet," on Holy Thursday, in St. Peter's


  Once more the temple-gates lie open wide:
    Onward, once more,
  Advance the Faithful, mounting like a tide
    That climbs the shore.

  What seek they? Blank the altars stand today,
    As tombstones bare:
  Christ of his raiment was despoiled; and they
    His livery wear.

  Today the puissant and the proud have heard
    The "mandate new":[1]
  That which He did, their Master and their Lord,
    They also do.

  Today the mitred foreheads, and the crowned,
    In meekness bend:
  New tasks today the sceptred hands have found;
    The poor they tend.

  Today those feet which tread in lowliest ways,
    Yet follow Christ,
  Are by the secular lords of power and praise
    Both washed and kissed.

  Hail, ordinance sage of hoar antiquity,
    Which She retains,
  That Church who teaches man how meek should be
    The head that reigns!





The Romans had a military machine, called a balista, a sort of vast crossbow, which discharged huge stones. It is said, that, when the first one was exhibited, an athlete exclaimed, "Farewell henceforth to all courage!" Montaigne relates, that the old knights, in his youth, were accustomed to deplore the introduction of fencing-schools, from a similar apprehension. Pacific King James predicted, but with rejoicing, the same result from iron armor. "It was an excellent thing," he said,—"one could get no harm in it, nor do any." And, similarly, there exists an opinion now, that the combined powers of gunpowder and peace are banishing physical courage, and the need of it, from the world.

Peace is good, but this result of it would be sad indeed. Life is sweet, but it would not be sweet enough without the occasional relish of peril and the luxury

  1. Mandatum Novum:—hence the name of "Maundy Thursday."