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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
Bishop refuses to throw in towels
Sheffield Cathedral
Cathedral officials raised health concerns over the ceremony
The Bishop of Sheffield says he will not bow to pressure to alter the way he ritually washes the feet of worshippers at a Maundy Thursday service.

The Rt Rev Jack Nicholls has resisted calls by cathedral officials to use separate towels to avoid the risk of cross-infection in the ceremony.

A spokesman for the bishop said a large bathsheet would be used to wash the feet of 12 worshippers.

"The washing of feet is a hugely symbolic act" said the spokesman.

The ceremony pays homage to the washing of the 12 disciples' feet by Jesus at the Last Supper.

"The bishop uses a small amount of water and a very large towel to symbolically remind the congregation of one of the most significant acts of Holy Week," said his spokesman.

"Bishop Jack is looking forward to the service enormously and he will do what he has always done."

A Health and Safety Executive spokesman said there were no current regulations relating to foot-washing.

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