Thousands took part in the solemn celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and in the procession which started at Beit Fage and ended at St. Anne Church, in the old city of Jerusalem.
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” With this acclamation, Holy Week begins in Jerusalem and throughout the world.
Retracing the steps of the Passion, we will look back on Jesus’ last week on earth, beginning on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Sunday.
The celebration was presided over by Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The liturgy began with the blessing of the palms in addition to the procession walking three laps around the Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher: an event full of meaning and emotion.
The Solemn Mass was concelebrated by the priests of the local clergy, together with the religious of the various communities of the Holy Land.
The song of the Passion of Christ was proclaimed according to the Gospel of Mark.
Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa reflected, “On Palm Sunday, we read two Gospels, a triumphant Gospel, that is Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and then the Gospel about His Passion. We must keep these two aspects together. When we welcome Jesus in our life as a king, as the messiah, as the priest, we must welcome Him for who He is, that is a king, that is the messiah who will take us to the cross and who will go to the cross for the salvation of the world and for love for humankind. To welcome Jesus in this way today, on Palm Sunday, means to share in His mission of proclaiming the universal love of God.
“Holy week in Jerusalem is a recurring week, but it is always new and it is always special, with pilgrims coming from all over the world. The purpose of Holy Week is to relive, in the same places that witnessed the Passion, the events that are the origin of our salvation, Christ’s death and resurrection. This journey will help us identify ourselves also physically, in a sort of eighth sacrament: our own experience that is connected with Jesus’ Passion.”
The celebration continued with the traditional Palm Procession, one of the most attended events of the liturgical year in the Holy Land. Thousands of people, including local Christians, pilgrims and curious people, walked from the village of Beit Fage, located on the opposite side of the Mount of Olives, to Jerusalem.
Two thousand years ago Jesus traveled the same route, welcomed by the enthusiasm of the crowd. To the cry of Hosanna, which literally means “Save”, many covered the road with cloaks and palms, to ensure that the donkey carrying Him did not touch the ground.
Hence the tradition of the palms. The olive tree tradition, spread in many other parts of the world, would, in fact, be much more recent: the first testimony dates back to the ninth century after Christ.
A festive ‘river’ of people invaded, singing and dancing, the streets that wind along the Mount of Olives, passing in front of Gethsemane, up to the Valley of the Cedron, the only place in Jerusalem where natural palms grow, up to the Gate of the Lions.
At the end of the parade, were the religious authorities, led by Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate gave a blessing to those present in the Church of St. Anne.
“Being a Christian means living in joy,” he exclaimed. “Today – he continued – we celebrate our love, not only for Jesus, but also for Jerusalem. May we be, more and more, a united community of people who are able to express their love for Jesus and give their life to the world.”