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With the high Holy Days of the Christian calendar approaching I thought I'd discuss some of the symbolism for those who are not accustomed to the Anglican, Lutheran and Catholic traditions...
Genuflection (or genuflexion), bending at least one knee to the ground, was from early times a gesture of deep respect for a superior. Today, the gesture is common in the Christian religious practices of the Anglican Church, Lutheran Church, Roman Catholic Church, and Western Rite Orthodox Church. The Latin word genuflectio, from which the English word is derived, originally meant kneeling rather than the rapid dropping to one knee and immediately rising that became customary in Western Europe in the Middle Ages.
The custom of genuflecting, as a sign of respect and even of service, arose out of the honor given to medieval kings. In modern times, when the folded flag of a fallen veteran is offered to the family, the presenting officer will go down on his left knee, if the recipient is seated.
Genuflection, typically on one knee, still plays a part in the Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Western Rite Orthodox traditions, among other churches; it is different from kneeling in prayer, which is more widespread. Its role declined somewhat in the late 20th century. Those for whom the gesture is difficult, such as the aged, are not expected to perform it.