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Holy Thursday and Good Friday: Baghdad

On Holy Thursday, known also in Britain and beyond as Maundy Thursday, the people of St George Baghdad commemorated the Last Supper, the Institution of the Eucharist, and the Garden of Gethsemane. Twelve young people came forward for Archbishop Michael to wash their feet as Christ washed the feet of his disciples.  After communion the altar was stripped of all coverings and the sanctuary left bare in remembrance of Christ’s departure from the table and his night walk to Gethsemane. Some worshippers stayed to pray in the dimly lit church.  Finally, in anticipation of the next day, the great wooden cross was laid against the altar, now covered in simple black cloth.

On Great and Holy Friday, also widely called Good Friday, even more gathered at St George’s. The sanctuary party entered and prostrated before the great cross. The Passion according to St John was read by three voices.  The Solemn Intercessions were led by Fr Faiz, the parish priest. Then all, old and young, came forward, drank a cup of bitter juice as is the custom in Iraq, and venerated the cross by kneeling, kissing, or bowing. The liturgy ended in complete silence.