Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday marks the start of the holiest week of the year, when Christians throughout the world focus on the passion story of Jesus Christ.

Here are a few things you may not have known about this special day!

  1. The Sunday before Easter has two names!

The day is often referred to as both “Palm Sunday” and “Passion Sunday.”

The first name comes from the fact that we are commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. “They took palm branches and went out to meet him” (John 12:13).

The second name comes from the fact that the narrative of the Passion is read on this Sunday as the start of Holy Week.

It is important to focus and reflect on both the praise and the passion of Palm/Passion Sunday. According to the main document on the celebration of the feasts connected with Easter

Holy Week begins on “Passion (or Palm) Sunday” which joins the foretelling of Christ’s regal triumph and the proclamation of the passion. The connection between both aspects of the Paschal Mystery should be shown and explained in the celebration and catechesis of this day.


  1. Why do we process with palms before the Mass


During the time of Jesus palm branches were an often depicted imagery for victory. The palm branch represented goodness, well-being and victory and was symbolic of the final victory which Jesus would soon fulfill over death.

During the entrance processing we imitate the Hebrew children by joining in faithful song and gesture singing “Hosanna”. The palms or branches are blessed so that they can be carried in the procession. The palms should be taken home where they will serve as a reminder of the victory of Christ be given which they celebrated in the procession.

Again, at the end of the Bible, people of every nation raised palm branches to honor Jesus. Scripture tells us, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9).

It is important to remember, that because the palms are blessed, they cannot simply be thrown out as trash or discarded. Instead, the palms should be burned after being used in the procession and the ashes used to mark the faithfuls’ foreheads on the next Ash Wednesday. They may also be used to prayerfully decorate one’s home by tucking them behind a religious painting, crucifix, or made into a palm cross or rose.

Did you know it is also a common tradition to fold palm crosses with your Palm Sunday palms and to display the cross in your car or home until the next Palm Sunday as a reminder of the importance of Holy Week?

  1. What does the word “Hosanna” mean?

That word most literally means “save now.” This was a word of urgent supplication, meaning something like: Come to our aid! The priests would repeat it in a monotone on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while processing seven times around the altar of sacrifice, as an urgent prayer for rain. But as the Feast of Tabernacles gradually changed from a feast of petition into one of praise, so too the cry for help turned more and more into a shout of jubilation.

The Jewish crowd in Jerusalem had been awaiting the coming of a great King, in their minds they waited for an earthly king, God had a different way in mind of bringing true salvation to all who would trust in Him.

The Hosanna cry is an expression of the complex emotions of the pilgrims accompanying Jesus and of his disciples: joyful praise of God at the moment of the processional entry, hope that the hour of the Messiah had arrived, and at the same time a prayer that the Davidic kingship and hence God’s kingship over Israel would be reestablished.

  1. Why did Jesus partake in such a triumphal entry

Jesus claims the right of kings, known throughout antiquity, to requisition modes of transport.

The use of an animal on which no one had yet sat is a further pointer to the right of kings. Most striking, though, are the Old Testament allusions that give a deeper meaning to the whole episode. . . .

For now let us note this: Jesus is indeed making a royal claim. He wants his path and his action to be understood in terms of Old Testament promises that are fulfilled in his person. . . .

Jesus chose to ride in on a donkey, which directly fulfilled Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, daughter Zion! Shout, daughter Jerusalem! See your King comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” In biblical times, it was common for kings and important people to arrive by a procession riding on a donkey. The donkey symbolized peace, so those who chose to ride them showed that they came with peaceful intentions.

Jesus, even then, reminded us that He is the Prince of Peace. When people shouted “Hosanna!” they were hailing Christ as King. Jesus is not building on violence; he is not instigating a military revolt against Rome. His power is of another kind: it is in God’s poverty, God’s peace that he identifies the only power that can redeem

  1. The crowd that cheered Jesus’ arrival is NOT the crowd that demanded his Crucifixion days later.

The Gospels make it very clear that those taking park in the scene of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem were not the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but the crowds who accompanied Jesus and entered the Holy City with him.

Saint Matthew’s account of the events immediately following the Hosanna to Jesus, makes this point the most vividly. “When he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying: Who is this? And the crowds said: This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee” (Mt 21:10–11)

People had heard of the prophet from Nazareth, but he did not appear to have any importance for Jerusalem, and the people there did not know him.

The crowd that paid homage to Jesus at the gateway to the city was not the same crowd that later demanded his crucifixion.


March 25, 2024

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