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A pedilavium, or foot-washing ritual, being carried out during a Maundy Thursday service in 2015 at the Santa Monica Parish Church in Minalin, Pampanga, the Philippines


Borrowed from Late Latin pedilavium (footbath), from Latin pedi- (combining form relating to feet) (from pēs (foot)) + lavāre (to lave, to wash) + -ium (suffix forming abstract nouns).



pedilavium (plural pedilavia or pedilaviums)

  1. (Christianity) The rite of foot-washing based on the act carried out by Jesus Christ on his disciples at the Last Supper. Depending on the church or denomination, it may be carried out at baptism, during Holy Communion, or as part of a Maundy Thursday service; maundy.
    Part of the church service on Maundy Thursday is the pedilavium.
    • 1839, J[oseph] E[smond] Riddle, “A More Particular Account of the Date, Names, and History of Ancient Festivals and Holy Days throughout the Year”, in A Manual of Christian Antiquities: Or, an Account of the Constitution, Ministers, Worship, Discipline, and Customs of the Ancient Church, Particularly during the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Centuries; to which is Prefixed an Analysis of the Writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. Compiled from the Works of Augusti and Other Sources, 2nd edition, London: John W[illiam] Parker, West Strand, OCLC 1193867, page 632:
      It is evident [] that the day [Maundy Thursday] was observed, as early as the fifth century, by the solemn celebration of the Lord's supper connected with the ceremony of the washing of feet (pedilavium). Augustin speaks of the celebration of the Lord's supper as being the more ancient and general custom, and of the pedilavium as of later introduction and more partial observance.
    • 1855 November, “Essential Characteristics of the Brethren’s Unity”, in The Moravian Church Miscellany. A Monthly Journal of the United Brethren in America, volume VI, number XI, Bethlehem, Pa.: Published for the Church of the United Brethren, OCLC 2448750, page 326:
      Lovefeasts and choir-days were celebrated as covenant festivals, for which all were prepared by being reminded of the covenant of love to Christ and his people, in the speakings, pedilaviums, prostration meetings, and choir homilies (Biertel-Stunden), nor omitting the especial occasions for partaking of the cup of covenant.
    • 2003, Ron Southern, “Strangers Below: An Archaeology of Distinctions in an Eighteenth-century Religious Community”, in Susan Lawrence, editor, Archaeologies of the British: Explorations of Identity in Great Britain and Its Colonies, 1600–1945 (One World Archaeology; 46), Abingdon, Oxon.; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, page 95:
      Sweeping was like the pedilavium, a purification of the floor of the house and the feet of the believer, contaminated by the insidious flow of a dissipating humanity. In the pedilavium, the feet were washed in the 'bloody Gore' from Christ's Body, and dried by his 'besweated Hair' (FCD [Fulneck Congregation Diaries] 6 August 1755), in an act of purification before the taking of the Lord's Supper.
    • 2014, Douglas N. Dow, “Alessandro de’ Medici and the Florentine Archdiocese at the End of the Cinquecento”, in Apostolic Iconography and Florentine Confraternities in the Age of Reform (Visual Culture in Early Modernity), Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, →ISBN, page 12:
      On Holy Thursday, Alessandro [de' Medici, Duke of Florence] imitated the innovation of his predecessor, Archbishop Altoviti, who had significantly modified the traditional ritual of the pedilavium acted out in the cathedral. Instead of having canons play the roles of the apostles, Altoviti washed the feet of 12 poveri, and then gave them clothing, bread, and two lire each. Alessandro followed Altoviti's example closely.
    • 2017, Dániel Kádár, “Ritual: Its Definition, Typology, and Relational Role(s)”, in Politeness, Impoliteness and Ritual: Maintaining the Moral Order in Interpersonal Interaction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, DOI:10.1017/9781107280465, →ISBN, page 51:
      [R]itual practices are not at all limited to demarcated ones, and, in fact, demarcatedness is a matter of degree rather than an absolute value []. While we can only speculate about how the scene happened, it is possible that Judas Iscariot's rant took place as Mary was still wiping Jesus' feet with her hair – and, if that was the situation, it is well likely that this was a somewhat ad hoc ritual performance, which was not expected to take place by some, and which was not clearly demarked at that time. [] One could play with the hypothesis that Mary made use of something that was more dynamic and ad hoc at that time than the pedilavia of our day, and so that section of the Bible provides a glimpse into a ritual practice being only at a certain stage of becoming demarcated.
  2. (chiefly medicine, obsolete) A footbath carried out for therapeutic purposes; a pediluvium.
    • 1714, Daniel Turner, “A Short Appendix Concerning the Efficacy of Local Remedies”, in De Morbis Cutaneis. A Treatise of Diseases Incident to the Skin. In Two Parts. With a Short Appendix Concerning the Efficacy of Local Remedies, and the Manner of Some of Their Operations, London: Printed for R. Bonwicke, W. Freeman, Tim[othy] Goodwin, J. Walthoe, M. Wotton, S[amuel] Manship, J. Nicholson, R. Parker, B. Tooke, and R. Smith, OCLC 230989714, pages 354–355:
      [S]ome Diſorders of the Head, how remote ſoever therefrom, are hereby (together with other Remedies) excellently well provided for, on Account of the Community there is between theſe Parts, as well as others, by Means not only of the Blood-veſſels, but the nervous Fibrillæ alſo; ſo that ſome have apply'd Plaiſters to the Soles of the Feet to cauſe Reſt, inſtead of taking an hypnotic Draught; and I have known others by the Uſe of a Pedilavium, who have more certainly and pleaſantly procur'd to themſelves the ſame, when the common Doſe of Laudanum would do nothing to that Purpoſe; []
    • 1746, Tho[mas] Short, “251. Poppy (Papaver) []”, in Medicina Britannica: Or, A Treatise on Such Physical Plants, as are Generally to be Found in the Fields or Gardens in Great-Britain: Containing a Particular Account of Their Nature, Virtues, and Uses. Together with the Observations of the Most Learned Physicians, as well Ancient as Modern, Communicated to the Late Ingenious Mr. [John] Ray, and the Learned Dr. Sim[on] Pauli. [...], London: Printed for R. Manby and H. Shute Cox, opposite the Old-Baily, on Ludgate-Hill, OCLC 642410818, page 233:
      In a Word, the Tea, Infuſion, Emulſion, and Syrup of the Seeds [of the poppy] are uſed in all ſevere internal Pains, [] And a Decoction of the Tops, Heads, Leaves, and Seeds in Baths, Pedilavia, Fomentations, Poultiſes, Ointments, &c. in all external Pains, and in Watchings, Cramps, and Stiffneſſes (if not from Cold, or cold Causes, &c.[).]
    • 1749, [Thomas Short], “[Of the Symptoms of Fevers, and Their Cure.] 10th, Of Feverish Heat”, in A General Chronological History of the Air, Weather, Seasons, Meteors, &c. in Sundry Places and Different Times; More Particularly for the Space of 250 Years. Together with Some of Their Most Remarkable Effects on Animal (Especially Human) Bodies, and Vegetables. In Two Volumes, volume II, Printed for T[homas] Longman, in Paternoster-Row; and A[ndrew] Millar, in the Strand, OCLC 912982174, page 512–513:
      [I]nſtead of Honey, Rob of Elder, Conſerve of Roſes, or Syrup of Violets; Glyſters, Pedilavia of emollient Decoctions with Nitre; or Elder, Vinegar, or Focus's of the ſame, applied with Sponges behind the Ears, to the Armpits, Groins, Hams, &c. or with Barley-water and a little Roſe-vinegar.
    • 1827 May 1, “XXVI. Spreading Ulcer of the Nose.”, in James Copland, John Darwall, and John Conolly, editors, The London Medical Repository and Review, volume XXVII, number 161 (New Series, volume IV, number XXIII), London: Printed for Thomas and John Underwood, 32 Fleet Street, OCLC 874893197, page 465:
      Twenty leeches were ordered to be applied round the nose every two days; frequent emollient fomentations; the local vapour bath; general bathing; stimulating pedilavia; a strict regimen; vegetables, milk, white meats; demulcent or acidulated drinks; avoidance of exposure to the sun or to cold air; flannel waistcoat and trousers. This treatment, being strictly observed for two months, caused all the inflammatory symptoms to disappear, []



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