Topic Progress:

(4.13) Washing of the Hands

The washing of the hand by the Priest follows the Incensation of the Gifts and the Altar


Origin and Meaning

Water is a universal symbol of cleanliness and purity. It also symbolizes life and nourishment being the main conductor of nutrients for foetuses in their mother’s womb.


As we enter the church, we are required to come clean and purify ourselves before facing God. When we dip our hands in the holy water before the start of the mass, we are following an ancient ritual that reminds us of the importance of water in his creation and our purification:

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false and do not swear deceitfully” (Ps 24:1-4).


 The ritual of washing is ritual commanded by God himself as he spoke to Moses;

You shall make a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it; with the water Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to make an offering by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die: it shall be a perpetual ordinance for them, for him and for his descendants throughout their generations” (Ex 30:17-21).