From Our Question Box – What is the correct knee to put on the ground when genuflecting? The short answer is the right knee. A catholic is invited to make a genuflection towards the Tabernacle where the Eucharist Lord, our true King is reserved. This is done normally when a person enters the pew for the first time and as they leave and also anytime in which a person passes directly in front of the Tabernacle. I will go out on a limb here and say we use the right knee because it goes back to the etiquette of the medieval court of a king. Since the majority of the knights were right handed they would wear their sword on the left hip. When they would enter into the presence of the king they would genuflect on the right knee as a sign of homage to the King. Since the sword was hanging on his left side genuflecting made it more difficult to draw a sword since the left thigh was in the way. Even in the building of castles the spiral stairs going up were built turning to the right to give right handed defenders an advantage. They could slash and thrust downward and towards the left better than the right handed aggressor could coming up the narrow winding stairs.
In Latin the word for left is “sinistra” where we get the word sinister. I apologize to those who are left handed but, is just would not be proper in medieval times, to use the left hand or the left knee when giving homage to a king. Today it is probably not as important which hand we use or which knee we genuflect with.
Blessings, Father Dooley