Religion Past and Present

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Kissing of Feet
(145 words)

[German Version]

is a gesture of courtly homage adopted from oriental proskynesis that found its way via imperial (Roman/Byzantine) into papal and episcopal ceremony. In the liturgy, kissing of the feet can accompany footwashing (pedilavium), in monasteries since the early medieval period. It is also a symbol of penitence. Preserved until most recently at the papal curia, the kissing of feet disappeared in the reforms of the 20th century. The pope sometimes still practices it spontaneously. Mentioned occasionally in the Bible (a…

Cite this page
Bürki, Bruno, “Kissing of Feet”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 03 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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