An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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Ceremonial cleansing of the celebrant's hands at the offertory of the eucharist. The term is from the Latin, "I will wash," taken from the opening of Ps 26:6, "I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, that I may go in procession round your altar." This verse was traditionally recited by the celebrant during the lavabo ceremony.

After the altar is prepared, and before the Great Thanksgiving, the celebrant may wash his or her hands in a small bowl called a lavabo bowl. An acolyte or server assists by holding the bowl and pouring water over the celebrant's hands. The celebrant's hands are dried on a lavabo towel which hangs over a wrist of the server at the lavabo ceremony. The lavabo is not mentioned by the Prayer Book, but it is practiced in many parishes.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.