Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion (the full
name), the first Sunday of Holy Week within the Lenten Season, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into
Jerusalem preceding his passion. As he entered, the people of Jerusalem
recognized Jesus as their king, saying "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is
he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
Traditionally in the Western Church the
Palm Sunday service begins with the "blessing of the palms," where the palms
used in the procession that follows are blessed. It is during this time that the
story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem is read. Then a procession into
the church building follows. If there cannot be a procession from the outside of
the church, a solemn entrance, taking place entirely within the church, may be
done. The hymns and psalmody are related to Christ's office as King.
Traditionally the Gloria Laus (i.e. All Glory Laud and Honor), written by
Theodulf of Orleans, is sung. Many times the worship service contains a
"preaching of the passion," where different events in the last days of Christ
are read publicly within the Eucharistic service. In modern Catholic services,
the priest and/or a combination of readers read aloud Matthew 26:14-27:66 (Year A), Mark 14:1-15:47 (Year B), or Luke 22:14-23:56 (Year C).
Palm Sunday is also called Fig
Sunday, because figs were traditionally eaten that day,
fig tree cursed by Christ after his entry into Jerusalem. In England
was called Olive or Branch Sunday, Sallow or Willow, Yew or Blossom
Sunday of the Willow Boughs, named for the local replacements for the
traditional palm branches.
Various customs have developed to celebrate
Palm Sunday. In the Slavic countries, the faithful walked through their
buildings and fields with the blessed palms, praying and singing ancient
They then laid palm pieces on each plot of ground, in every barn,
stable, as a petition was made for protection from weather and disease,
a blessing upon the produce and property.
pilgrim Egeria attests to a Palm Sunday procession taking place in the
Church at the end of the 4th century. In the Gallican Bobbio Missal of
century we find a reference to blessing of the palms, which symbolize
victory of Christ. The more elaborate celebrations of the Middle Ages
replaced by simpler services in the Western Church. Many denominations,
including Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians celebrate Palm
addition to Catholics and Eastern Christians. In most churches, the
ashes for Ash Wednesday are derived from burned palms, left over from Palm Sunday