In the evening, the Maundy Thursday service is held at churches island wide.
After the service, the Blessed Sacrament is taken to the Altar of Repose in a procession. The Altar of Repose also holds consecrated communion hosts prepared for distribution on Good Friday.
The altar is then stripped. Because the altar symbolises Christ, stripping symbolises the abandonment of Jesus by His disciples and His humiliation as the soldiers stripped Him.
Catholics do not genuflect to the tabernacle after the hosts have been removed to the Altar of Repose. Instead, they bow or kneel on both knees as they face the altar and the Blessed Sacrament.
Catholics are encouraged to stay for prayer and devotion in the church for an hour after service, at what is known as Holy Hour, symbolizing Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane where he entreated his disciples to remain awake and watchful while he prayed.
On this evening, many Catholics here visit different churches in the archdiocese to “accompany Jesus”.
The tradition of visiting churches on Holy Thursday is an ancient practice, probably originating in Rome where pilgrims did it as penance.