Lavabo

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A lavabo is a device used to provide water for the washing of hands. It consists normally of a ewer or container of some kind to pour water, and a bowl to catch the water as it falls off the hands. In ecclesiastical usage it refers to both the basin in which the priest washes his hands and the ritual that surrounds this action in the Eucharist. In secular usage, it refers to a sink for washing hands; the room in which it is kept is the lavatory.

Ecclesiastical usage



The name Lavabo ("I shall wash") is derived from the words of Psalm (KJV—in the Septuagint it is Psalm 25), which the celebrant traditionally recites while he washes his hands: "I will wash my hands in innocency, so will I compass thine altar, O Lord". The washing of hands during the recitation of these psalm verses is of very ancient usage in the Catholic Church:

<blockquote>"In the third century there are traces of a custom of washing the hands as a preparation for prayer on the part of all Christians; and from the fourth century onwards it appears to have been usual for the ministers at the Communion Service ceremonially to wash their hands before the more solemn part of the service as a symbol of inward purity." (Church of England) 1906

In most liturgical traditions, the priest washes his hands after vesting, before the beginning of the liturgy. This washing may be accompanied by prayers. Many Christian rites also have the...
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