Queen Elizabeth found a way to honor Maundy Gift recipients even though the special mass held in their honor once again had to be canceled this year.

Every year on the Thursday before Easter Sunday, known as Maundy Thursday, the Queen historically hands out specially minted coins during mass to recognize individuals’ outstanding Christian service over the past year. According to the tradition that dates back to 600 A.D., the monarch delivers each coin in a red-and-white purse. However, the ceremony had to be cancelled for the second year in a row because of the ongoing pandemic. In addition to celebrating their Christian service, this year’s Maundy Gift was also meant to commemorate the Queen’s upcoming 95th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day, the day the U.K. and Ireland decimalized its currency.

But the royal did her best to console recipients in a note sent out on April 1 to the 190 recipients along with their ceremonial coin, writing, “I am delighted to send you the Maundy Gift which I hope you will accept as an expression of my personal thanks to you for all that you have done to enrich the life of your community.” She then went on to explain the religious significance of this particular honor. “On the night before he died, Jesus washed the feet of his Disciples. This was something usually done for guests by a servant of the household,” she wrote. “By taking the part of a servant, Jesus set an example to the Disciples and to those who, down through the ages, would try to follow him. He showed us that service for others is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.”

She continued, “Each year, at the Royal Maundy Service, we have an opportunity to recognize, and give thanks for, work done by countless people for the well-being of their neighbors; work that has often been taken for granted or hidden.” The Queen noted that this year’s ceremony would’ve taken place at Westminister Abbey, before concluding, “I am sure you will be sad, as I am, that present circumstances make it impossible for that service to take place. I hope however that this Maundy Gift will remind you for years to come that your efforts have been truly appreciated.”

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