JERUSALEM – On Sunday, April 14, 2019, Palm Sunday, thousands of Christians converged from the whole world to celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, first with the celebration of a Pontifical Mass at the Holy Sepulchre, then with the traditional procession of the Palm fronds, from Bethphage to the Church of St. Anne.
The celebrations started firstly at the Holy Sepulchre where the faithful attended a Pontifical Mass presided by Archbishop Pizzaballa and then in the afternoon with the traditional procession from Bethphage to the Basilica of St. Anne.
At the beginning of the afternoon, many Christians gathered at Bethphage Church for the procession led by the Apostolic Administrator. At his side were Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem and Palestine, Father Francesco Patton, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land, and Archbishop Yasser Al-Ayyash, Patriarchal Greek Catholic Melkite Vicar in Jerusalem.
From Bethphage, thousands of local faithful and pilgrims of all nationalities walked the path that Christ himself traveled 2,000 years ago. Waving their palms and branches, the crowd expressed jubilation in numerous languages, dancing and singing throughout the procession.
Once the procession arrived at the Church of St. Anne, Archbishop Pizzaballa was greeted by the faithful. He greeted them in return and then delivered a short speech and then gave his blessing. The faithful continued to enjoy the festive atmosphere of the day, following the procession of the different marching Scouts bands who departed from the Church St. Anne towards New Gate.
Below is the speech of Archbishop Pizzaballa after the procession:
“Welcome to everyone!
I greet the many Christians from different parts of Palestine and Israel. Welcome to the many pilgrims, to the men and women religious, and to all those who have joined us in this festive celebration that the Christians of Jerusalem prepare each year.
We’ve arrived here, tired but full of joy and enthusiasm, for this beautiful procession that has led us to the Holy City, Jerusalem, and which also opens our celebrations of the week of the Passion of the Lord.
Today’s experience is also the experience that our Church lives every day in this blessed and torn Land of ours: today we have experienced love for Jesus that becomes joy, harmony, passion, and the pride of our common Christian belonging.
But we also identify with Him in the difficult life of each day, our passion: the political divisions with their consequences, from walls to movement restrictions and how much we experience very well every day; and then divided families, lack of work …
So, in this week of Passion and Resurrection, we want to look to Jesus, first of all, and draw from him the strength and courage to remain united, in solidarity with one another.
We want to ask him for all of us, for our families, and for our country, to still have the courage to believe in peace, but not as the world gives it (cf. Jn 14:27). The Peace that comes from the Easter of Jesus and that nourishes our life as Christians, above all in our families, in our Church, always so divided, and in our society.
Death has no power over us. “Death was swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15: 55)
Have courage! We are not alone. Jesus walked with us today. He was with us when we sang and danced with joy. He is with us even when we suffer. He is with us always! This is our strength. We will always win with him!
May you have a blessed Holy Week!”