Silver coins worth weight in gold

The Queen presented Maundy Money to 82 men and 82 women yesterday at the Church of Ireland's St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh city.
  • Present-day Maundy coins consist of silver one, two, three and four-penny pieces.
  • Maundy Money has always been legal tender and in the 19th century sets were available to the general public.
  • Since 1909, however, the coins have been given only to Maundy recipients and, in lieu of fees, to officials and others who take part in the annual service, including each choirboy.
  • The Maundy coins have been minted each year since 1971 as decimal coins and are now the only silver coinage issued.
  • The coins carry the young head of the sovereign for the entire duration of their reign.
  • The number of men and women receiving Maundy Money each equals the age of the sovereign during the year.
  • Each recipient will receive 82p in Maundy coins, newly minted Sterling silver coins worth much more than their face value.
  • The recipients have been selected from the four main denominations in Northern Ireland in recognition of their work for their church and community.
  • The ceremony traces its origin to the Last Supper when, as St John recorded, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
  • Afterwards, Jesus gave the disciples a command or "mandatum" - the Latin word from which Maundy is derived - to love one another.
  • Dating from about 600AD, the ceremony originally involved the king, queen or their representative washing the feet of the poor.
  • The Queen is not expected to wash the pensioners' feet but a historical relic of the church service is that nosegays or posies of strong-smelling flowers or herbs are still carried in the royal procession, a reminder of when the bad odour of the feet of the poor would need disguising.
  • "Bad" King John, according to the Roll of the Wardrobe Expenses, gave money to the poor on Maundy Thursday; in 1212, at Rochester, 13 paupers each received 13 pence.
  • By the early 14th century, it had become customary for the sovereign to provide a meal, together with gifts of food and clothing.

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