Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, preceding the feast of Easter and marking the beginning of Holy Week, commemorates the royal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, where he was acclaimed as the Messiah! On this day, the Church also celebrates the Passion and death of Jesus on the cross, hence the liturgical name of "celebration of the Palms and the Passion of the Lord". What is the biblical origin of Palm Sunday and how do Christians celebrate Palm Sunday?

Biblical Origin of the Feast of Palm Sunday

The feast of Palm Sunday celebrates the brilliant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, as recounted in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The apostles of Christ recount that, some time before the Jewish feast of Passover, Jesus entered Jerusalem, the place of his passion and death. Having asked two of his disciples to go and get a donkey, and he entered the holy city on his modest steed and thus manifested himself to all as the Messiah announced by the prophets. The crowd, very large, began to cheer him: the inhabitants of Jerusalem laid down clothes in his path and waved branches of palms or branches.


The Apostle John describes this event as follows: “The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


 “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

 “Blessed is the king of Israel!” 
(John 12:12)

The Celebration of Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is celebrated on the Sunday before Easter. This day marks the beginning of Holy Week and thus commemorates two events: first, the triumphal arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem, acclaimed as a king by the crowd; and second, the Passion and death of Christ on the cross. The name of this festival is also officially "celebration of the Palms and the Passion of the Lord".




The celebration of Palm Sunday is very special: first of all, it is the only day of the year where two Vespers are celebrated; then, the liturgy of the Mass is divided into two very contrasting parts.

The celebration begins on the forecourt of the church during the blessing of the Palms. This was followed by the reading of the account of the entry of Jesus into the holy city as well as the entrance procession into the church, accompanied by the hymn “Hosanna in highest heaven. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. This procession obviously commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, but also the eschatological day when we will enter the heavenly Jerusalem!

Secondly, the celebration of the Passion of Christ takes place, the full story of which serves as a gospel. We also read a text by Saint Paul that draws the parallel between Christ lowered, then exalted "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,” (Philippians 2: 6-11).


On Palm Sunday, the liturgical ornaments are red in color, thus recalling the two aspects of this celebration: the royalty of Jesus, but also his Passion.

Traditions and Prayers on Palm Sunday

Christian tradition of Palm Sunday

The Christian tradition of Palm Sunday is to deposit the blessed branches on the graves of the cemeteries or to hang them on the crucifixes or religious images of the houses until the following year. Symbols of life, the branches will then be burned and the ash will be used to mark the foreheads of the faithful on Ash Wednesday.


This tradition has a strong symbolism: depositing the branches in one’s house is a real act of love and trust in Jesus: we believe that through this gesture, the resurrected Christ enters and remains in our home! We then proclaim him "king" and "savior", as Saint Matthew states: “See, your king comes to you,  gentle and riding on a donkey” (Matthew 21:5).



Prayer on Palm Sunday

“Lord, today is the beginning of Holy Week. I don't want this week to look like any other week of the year. I do not want to remain indifferent to the mysteries of your passion and death. So I come to you in prayer to meditate and reflect on what happened in the last days of your life on earth. Every day of this week I want to take the time to contemplate these mysteries. Today, Palm Sunday, you triumphantly enter Jerusalem, accompanied by the cheers of the crowd. Help me in these few minutes of prayer to penetrate more deeply into the meaning of this celebration. Lord, show me your glory that I praise you as the people did on this first Palm Sunday. Lord, I want to be there with the crowd to praise and glorify you. I don't want to be just a bystander. You are truly the king who comes in the name of the Lord! You deserve my praise for all the great things you have done and are still doing. You deserve my eternal gratitude for everything you have done for me. Grant me your grace, that I may constantly sing your praises not only by my words but also by my actions. So be it.”


Father Marcial Maciel Degollado (1920-2008)

With Hozana, walk with Christ during Holy Week!

On Palm Sunday, we contemplate Christ, king of Israel, who chooses to give his life for us, to save us! So, in the face of such a great gift, we are called, as Benedict XVI tells us, to "respond adequately, that is to say, by the gift of ourselves, our time, our prayer, our life in deep communion of love with Christ who suffers, dies and rises for me." (Homily of April 1, 2012)


On the occasion of the Palms and the entry into Holy Week, experience a climb to Easter with the online retreats offered on Hozana:


Association Hozana - 8 rue du Palais de Justice, 69005 Lyon

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