Church History
Washing of Feet

“Washing of Feet,” Church History Topics

“Washing of Feet”

Washing of Feet

During the Last Supper, Jesus took a towel and a basin of water and washed the feet of the disciples.1 Some Christian groups followed this New Testament precedent, washing feet as a token of humility or brotherhood.2 A revelation to Joseph Smith in December 1832 required participants in the School of the Prophets to participate in the washing of feet. The Lord commanded the elders to “clean your hands, and your feet, before me” as witness that they were “clean, from the blood of this, wicked generation.”3 Joseph Smith and other members of the school first participated in this ordinance during the school’s first session in January 1833.4 As the construction of the Kirtland Temple neared completion, Joseph Smith explained to members of the school that the “ordinance of washing of feet” was a restoration of the New Testament practice “calculated to unite our hearts” and prepare the elders for an endowment of spiritual power.5 He further taught that the ordinance needed to be performed in a place “aside from the world.”6 Accordingly, on March 29 and 30, 1836, about 300 priesthood holders from the Kirtland area, including Joseph Smith and other Church leaders, met to wash one another’s feet.7

Related Topics: School of the Prophets, Endowment of Power


  1. John 13:1–17.

  2. See Matthew J. Grow, “‘Clean from the Blood of This Generation’: The Washing of Feet and the Latter-day Saints,” in Richard Lyman Bushman, ed., Summer Fellows’ Papers, 2000–2002: Archive of Restoration Culture (Provo, Utah: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, Brigham Young University, 2005), 131–33.

  3. Revelation, 27–28 December 1832 [D&C 88:1–126],” in Revelation Book 2, 40,

  4. Minutes, 22–23 January 1833,” in Minute Book 1, 7,

  5. Joseph Smith, Journal, 1835–1836, 32, 33,; see also Topic: Endowment of Power.

  6. Joseph Smith, Journal, 1835–1836, 32.

  7. Joseph Smith, Journal, 1835–1836, 186–88. The practice of washing feet as introduced in Kirtland was revived again briefly when a short-lived School of the Prophets was established again in Utah in 1883. Grow, “Clean from the Blood of This Generation,” 135–36. The similar but unrelated practice of feet dusting, also based on a New Testament passage and sanctioned by modern revelation, was performed by many 19th-century missionaries. See Topic: Early Missionaries.