Belfast Telegraph

Belfast OAP Jim's delight over Maundy Thursday ceremony gift from the Queen

The Queen hands out purses at yesterday’s Maundy Thursday service
The Queen hands out purses at yesterday’s Maundy Thursday service
Jim and Rosemary Patterson from Belfast
Pope Francis kisses the feet of prisoners in his traditional Holy Thursday visit to a prison in Italy yesterday

By David Young

A North Belfast man was one of 10 local people to receive Maundy Purses from the Queen yesterday.

Recipients are nominated by the five Church of Ireland dioceses in Northern Ireland.

Jim Patterson flew to London on Wednesday and stayed in Windsor the night before the ancient traditional service.

Jim (76), a lifelong member of the parish of St Mark in Ballysillan, was nominated for the Royal Maundy Thursday gift by the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.

He was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Rosemary, who retired as personal assistant to the Bishop of Connor in March last year.

Speaking ahead of yesterday's ceremony, Jim said he was overwhelmed to learn he had been nominated to receive a Maundy purse.

"I see it as recognition of work both of us have done in the church," Jim said.

"We are very much looking forward to the service in Windsor Castle, and I am looking forward to meeting the Queen.

"Someone who has reigned for that length of time is unique.

"This is probably the one and only chance I will have to see her or be close to her.

"I am a bit nervous in case I make a mess of things, but hopefully I will just have to follow instructions!"

Bishop Abernethy said: "Jim is a true example of Christian service and I was delighted to nominate him for this recognition.

"Jim's commitment and faithful service to St Mark's during the preceding 40 years cannot be overestimated.

"He and Rosemary remained in their community during a very tumultuous period of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

"They continued to live, worship, serve in St Mark's and the diocese, and share their faith within their community."

Ninety-three men and 93 women from across the UK received Maundy purses from the Queen yesterday.

The number of purses distributed symbolises the Queen's age.

The Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony inspired by The Bible.

It commemorates the Thursday before Good Friday and the Last Supper, when Jesus washed His disciples' feet and commanded them to "Love one another".

By the 13th century the royal family was taking part in similar ceremonies. By washing the feet of the poor and giving money and gifts, they were showing humility and compassion.

The tradition of the king or queen washing the feet of the poor faded out in the 18th century, but the monarch still gave people food and clothing. By the 19th century the tradition had changed again, and the monarch simply gave people the Maundy money.

Meanwhile, in Italy Pope Francis travelled this year to a prison in the town of Velletri near Rome to kiss and wash the feet of prisoners in a service commemorating Jesus' gesture of humility toward his apostles on the night before He was crucified. Pope Francis' predecessors held the traditional Holy Thursday rite in one of Rome's great basilicas, washing the feet of 12 priests.

But to emphasise its symbolism of service, Pope Francis transferred it to places of confinement, such as prisons, immigrant centres or old people's homes.

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