The Mass of the Lord's Supper is the Catholic Mass celebrated on the evening of Holy Thursday. It inaugurates the Easter Triduum, and commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, more explicitly than other celebrations of the Mass.
The Mass stresses three aspects of that event: "the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and the commandment of brotherly love that Jesus gave after washing the feet of his disciples."
The celebration of a Mass in the evening of Holy Thursday began in late fourth-century Jerusalem, where it became customary to celebrate the events of the Passion of Jesus in the places where they took place. In Rome at that time a Mass was celebrated at which penitents were reconciled with a view to participation in the Easter celebrations. The Jerusalem custom spread and in seventh-century Rome the Pope celebrated a Mass of the Lord's Supper on this day as well as the Mass of Reconciliation. By the eighth century, the Masses became three: one for reconciliation, one for blessing the holy oils and a third for the Last Supper. The last two were in reduced form, being without Liturgy of the Word. Pope Pius V's reforms in 1570 forbade the celebration of Mass after noon, and the Mass of the Lord's Supper became a morning Mass and remained so until Pope Pius XII's reforms in the 1950s.
The washing of feet that is now part of the Mass of the Lord's Supper was in use at an early stage without relation to this particular day, and was first prescribed for use on Holy Thursday by a 694 Council of Toledo. By the twelfth century it was found in the Roman liturgy as a separate service. Pope Pius V included this rite in his Roman Missal, placing it after the text of the Mass of the Lord's Supper. He did not make it part of the Mass, but indicated that it was to take place "at a suitable hour" after the stripping of the altars. The 1955 revision by Pope Pius XII inserted the rite into the Mass.
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