Glimpsing Armenian Tradition on Maundy Thursday

Mycah, Parish Volunteer, writes about a visit to the Armenian Church

On Maundy Thursday afternoon Fr Ian and I were delighted to attend the feetwashing liturgy at the Armenian Church in Manchester. I felt I was stepping into an ancient Church congregation in a different part of the world.  Ancient Armenian was spoken for the duration of the service, a few pieces were read in English (for our benefit). The readings were interspersed with a haunting melody sung by a female voice.  It was very easy to forget for a moment that we were in South Manchester, on Upper Brook Street.

Worship began began by a curtain being drawn back to reveal the altar and the priest, Fr Nersessian, already in place having begun the worship.  Incense was used freely, and the ancient words chanted with strong voices by the priest and deacons filled the church.

St Ar UWhen it was time to begin the foot washing, the priest disappeared behind the altar, divesting himself of his amazing hat and cope, and put on a towel around his waist before kneeling to wash the feet of men and children alike.  Feet were anointed with butter, and hands and Gospel books were kissed. Once the last person had their feet washed by the priest, he disappeared once again behind the altar to set his vestments to rights and continue the service.

The English translation of the prayers, and the liturgy, informed us that at the heart of the liturgy was  Jesus giving an example of servitude for his disciples.  The priest left us with a final thought about serving one another unconditionally in our communities without thought to differing views on religion and faith while thinking about the tragedy in Brussels this past week.


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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