The Archdiocese of Birmingham - The Parish of the Immaculate Conception

The Lavabo Bowl and Towel.


“Lord, wash away my iniquity; cleanse me from my sin.”

The prayer that the priest says quietly to himself while he washes his fingers at the start of the Liturgy of the Eucharist reflects on his unworthiness to perform the action he is about to ... to stand in the place of Jesus Christ and to celebrate the Mass.

The towel is similar in appearance to the purificator but smaller and is usually not marked with a cross while the lavabo bowl is just a bowl of water.

During the Mass, the priest will wash his fingers after he had offered the bread and wine and, if incense is being used, incensed the gifts, the altar, the cross and in turn been incensed by Deacon Michael or the Master of Ceremonies. When this has been done approach with your fellow acolyte and if you have the bowl hold it out so that the priest can easily dip his fingers in the water. If you are holding the towel, unfold it so that the priest can dry his fingers. When he has done this he will hand the towel back to you, bow to him and return to the credence table. Fold the towel up neatly again.

After Holy Communion you will need to tak the lavabo bowl and towel to any priests or deacons who have distributed the sacred host.

At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the priest will also wash his hands with soap and water after the washing of the feet.

Similarly, when the Sacrament of Confirmation is celebrated, the bishop will wash his hands with soap and water after conferring the sacrament. In addition he may use lemon to remove the oil from his fingers. If you are acolyte at the Confirmation Mass it will be your job to present these to the bishop. The Master of Ceremonies will advise you.