Palm Sunday in Jerusalem | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

It was a feast for local Christians and for pilgrims who came from all over the world. The Palm Sunday procession is one of the most important Christian public events in Jerusalem every year and this year attendance was high.
The day began with mass at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. Complete with choirs, songs, palms and olive branches, the procession made its way three times around the Holy Edicule that contains Jesus’ Sepulcher, just as they did for the solemn celebrations. Dozens of priests concelebrated the mass and participated with devotion.

The central moment on Palm Sunday was the afternoon procession on the same road traveled by Jesus when he was welcomed in Jerusalem. The procession left the area where the monastery is located and the church of Betfage in order to reach the Church of St. Anne, in the old city a few steps from the Lions’ Gate.

For the occasion, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem and Ramallah obtained special permission to enter Jerusalem. With them, pilgrims from all over the world, including such countries as the Philippines, South Africa, Poland, Switzerland and the United States. Thousands of people of dozens of different nationalities went down the Mount of Olives, waving their palms and olive branches to the cries of “Hosanna!” With songs and musical instruments, every person praised God and cried out the joy of being a Christian in his or her own language.

Sister Maria Cielo said, “I had lived as a missionary in the Holy Land, but it had been ten years since I came to this procession. I experience the same joy every time. It is both joyful and painful to be here: Jesus was applauded by the same people who betrayed him.”

“I'm a Scout from Beit Jala: I cannot [usually] come here to Jerusalem and so today is a good opportunity,” said a Palestinian boy. Agnese and Lucia, two Italian women on pilgrimage were amazed: “There is an incredible crowd, an international climate.” “Faith is everywhere, but here in Jerusalem we can feel it even more,” said Laurence.

In the courtyard of the Church of St. Anne, the parishioners of the Franciscan Church of the Custody of the Holy Land sang songs and danced to keep the joy of the procession going. Then, Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa gave a short speech in English, which was echoed by Mons. Giacinto Marcuzzo, the Patriarchal Vicar for Bethlehem and Palestine.

“We have made the same physical journey as Jesus,” said Pizzaballa. “One cannot read about Jesus’ entry into the Holy City without it being completed and illuminated by the Easter story. Today we also today enter with Jesus at Easter.” The Apostolic Administrator then spoke about the love of Christians for the Holy City: “We want to say and proclaim with determination that we are part of this city, which is at the origin of our faith and which protects our Christian heritage.”

Beatrice Guarrera