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10 Things You Probably Didn't Know about Holy Thursday

by Ian on April 5, 2012

Holy Thursday marks the start of the Triduum - the most solemn time of the liturgical year which culminates in the Easter Vigil.

  1. The Matins and Lauds of the last three days of Holy Week used to be known as Tenebrae. A 15-candle candelabra was set near the altar holding yellow candles like those traditionally used during a requiem. After each psalm a candle was extinguished until the church was in total darkness. At this point a loud continuous noise was made until a single lit candle was brought forward ending the Office. Some parishes still hold Tenebrae services and it is well worth your time to attend.
  2. Holy Thursday is called Azymes, or feast of the unleavened bread by the Jews. At sunset on this day the Jews eat the Passover meal. Jesus spent the day in Bethania but returned to Jerusalem to celebrate the Last Supper.
  3. In ancient times, three solemn Masses were celebrated on Holy Thursday. Before the first Mass, the penitents who had spent Lent doing penance received their absolution. During Lent the penitents hadn't cut their hair or shaved.

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