Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the annually celebrated day marking the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. Christians from around the world are called to remember the events, leading up to the Lord’s crucifixion and the resurrection on Easter morning, which this year falls on Sunday.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis celebrated his first Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square while the faithful enthusiastically waved olive branched and braided palm fronds, symbolizing how worshippers greeted Jesus more than 2,000 years ago.
The square overflowed with a crowd estimated by the Vatican at 250,000 people.
Recalling the triumphant welcome into Jerusalem, Francis said Jesus “awakened so many hopes in the heart, above all among humble, simple, poor, forgotten people, those who don’t matter in the eyes of the world,” according to Huffington Post.
In his homily, Francis said Christian joy “isn’t born from possessing a lot of things but having met” Jesus. He said that same joy should keep people young “even at 70, 80, the heart doesn’t age” if one is inspired by Christian joy, reported Huffington Post.
In the Holy Land, hundreds of Christians gathered at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, according to Associated Press.
Mostly Palestinian worshippers gathered in the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, traditional site of Jesus’ birth. Bethlehem is in the West bank, a territory east of Israel that Palestinians seek for their future state.
While Israel retains military control there but Palestinians have a measure of self-rule over their own communities, including Bethlehem, according to Associated Press.
There are around 50,000 Palestinian Christians, a tiny minority among a mostly Muslim society. They must obtain military permission to enter Jerusalem to participate in religious ceremonies.
Millions of Christian around the world observes this day at their churches.