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After the altar is prepared, and before the Great Thanksgiving, the celebrant may wash his or her hands in a small bowl called a lavabo bowl. An acolyte or server assists by holding the bowl and pouring water over the celebrant's hands. The celebrant's hands are dried on a lavabo towel which hangs over a wrist of the server at the lavabo ceremony. The lavabo is not mentioned by the Prayer Book, but it is practiced in many parishes. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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