Christians commemorate Last Supper with Maundy services and footwashing

Giving out Maundy money is a royal tradition dating back to the 1200s(Photo: The Royal Mint)

Christians around the world will commemorate the Last Supper on Thursday with footwashing ceremonies while the Queen will give out Maundy money in a traditional ceremony.

This year's Royal Maundy Service is taking place in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, the spectacular setting for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding last year.

The Queen will be handing out Maundy money in small leather purses to 93 men and 93 women who have been selected for their service to the community.

The number of men and women invited reflects the years of the Sovereign's life, a tradition dating back to the 15th century. The Queen turns 93 on April 21, although she will not mark her official birthday until June 8.

Each person will receive two small leather string purses, a red one containing ordinary coins and a second white one containing silver Maundy coins specially minted by the Royal Mint for the occasion. The Maundy coins amount to the same number of pence as the years of the monarch's age and bear the portrait of the Queen that was created by Mary Gillick for the first coins of her reign in 1953.

Two people receiving Maundy money from the Queen this year are Jean Carleton, a churchwarden at Stanley St Andrew Church and South Moor St George, and the Rev Roy Merrin, who served as the full-time minister of Jarrow Baptist Church on a voluntary basis between 1993 and 2016.

Mrs Carleton also serves as the deanery lay chair in Lanchester Deanery and works with the local Credit Union and food bank. Additional roles include acting as a counsellor with Derwentside Bereavement Support and as president of the parish Mothers' Union.

During his time as minister at Jarrow Baptist, Rev Merrin established a baby equipment lending service, a free furniture depot for those in need, and also worked with the local food bank.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said: "I am delighted that Her Majesty The Queen in her 93rd Birthday year has chosen to recognise these outstanding individuals.

"The amazing work that Jean and Roy do and the way that they do it in our communities in blessing them for the transformation of us all is simply outstanding.

"Each recipient has made a significant and lasting difference to their communities through their voluntary service and I am thrilled that the Queen's award of Maundy Money recognises this vital contribution."

The Maundy Thursday service has been an annual tradition since the 1200s when the reigning monarch would give out Maundy money to the underprivileged at Easter time.

The word 'Maundy' is derived from the Latin version of John 13:34, 'Mandatum novum do nobis' - 'A new commandment I give you'.

In more recent times, the tradition has been to give out money to pensioners who have made significant contributions to their local community or the church.

Churches across the nation will also be holding traditional footwashing ceremonies today in memory of the example set by Jesus when he washed the feet of his disciples during the Last Supper before his crucifixion.