Washing the feet of other Christians was a qualification for service as a “widow” in the early church (1 Timothy 5:10). Foot-washing is here representative of humble acts of service (TEV)..
The ceremonial washing of feet was first attested by Augustine in connection with Ester baptism. The association of the rite with Maundy Thursday was fixed by the council of Toledo (694). The developed Catholic practice involves a priest washing the feet of 12 poor men. Martin Luther criticized ecclesiastical authorities who washed feet as an act of humility and then demanded greater humility in return. The Anabaptists practiced foot-washing as a symbol of washing in the blood of Christ and to impress the example of Christ’s deep humiliation. Foot-washing was commonly practiced by Baptists in early America. Today the regular practice is confined to smaller Baptist bodies, Mennonites, and some others.