Royal Maundy  


St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral Armagh Maundy Thursday March 20th 2008

From the 12th century onwards the Sovereign has made a distribution of alms on Maundy Thursday, originally with the washing of feet, although this custom was discontinued long ago.

The number of recipients is related to the Sovereign's age, so in 2008, there were 82 men and 82 women accompanied by their companions. The recipients are all over 70 years of age and selected because they have rendered service to their church and the community.

At the service of the Royal Maundy the alms consisted of two purses, one white and one red. The red purse contained newly minted silver coins, a five pound piece and a fifty pence piece. The five pound piece is to commemorate Prince Charles' sixtieth birthday. The white purse had coins to the value of 82 pence, in tiny solid silver coins of one pence, two pence, three pence and four pence denominations.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Armagh. The music was provided by the choristers and gentlemen of St Patrick's Cathedral Armagh, together with the boys and gentlemen from the Chapels Royal. The singing and music was most uplifting.

A series of processions preceded the service. The leaders of the four main Christian denominations and other faith communities; the civic group with the mayor of Armagh, and the ecclesiastical dignitaries procession; finally the Queen's procession with the Armagh procession with the Archbishop of Armagh in it, and last of all the Royal Almonry with the Yeomen of the Guard carrying on their heads the dishes (from the Royal collection normally kept in the Tower of London) containing the alms, the Wandsmen and four children of the Royal Almonry, (pupils from the Church of Ireland, Roman Catholic, Integrated and state schools).

The lessons were read by the Duke of Edinburgh and Cardinal Sean Brady. The Queen distributed the alms to those on the south side of the aisle after the first lesson and after the second lesson to recipients sitting on the north side.

The service was most inspiring, a combination of pageant and simplicity. It was a privilege and an honour to be a recipient in a most memorable occasion.

Jean Cochrane

[Mrs Iris Finlay and Canon Norman Kelly were also honoured. ]