Monday, 24 June, 2019

Jerusalem Welcomes Christian Pilgrims for Start of Holy Week

Pope Francis blesses palm branches as he ushers in Holy Week Kenyan Christians mark Palm Sunday ahead of Easter holiday
Patty Aguilar | 16 April, 2019, 08:34

Jesus led a procession into Jerusalem before his Crucifixion, so many Christians take part in processions to commemorate his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Scores of worshippers descended on St Peter's Square this morning for the enormous Palm Sunday Mass service as Holy Week celebrations get underway in the Vatican.

As one of the few cities in the Middle East where religious freedom exists, Jerusalem hosted massive Palm Sunday celebrations for Christian pilgrims over the weekend.

As is tradition, Sunday Mass in Saint Peter's Square on Palm Sunday began with Pope Francis sprinkling holy water and blessing palm fronds and olive branches for the service in front of the towering obelisk in the center of the square.

Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. "This twofold mystery accompanies our entrance into Holy Week each year", the Pope said.

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Francis pointed to the story as a warning to resist triumphalism and remain humble. Then, cradling a braided palm, he joined a solemn procession to a canopied altar set up outside St. Peter's Basilica.

"I once again appeal to the young people and to all to pray for peace in the world, but especially for peace in the Holy Land and the Middle East", the pope said.

By the end of Mass, sunshine gave way to a soft, light rain and the crowd had swelled to 50,000 people, according to security officials.

Palm Sunday, which falls on the last Sunday before Easter, is recognised by Christians as they mark the beginning of the journey to the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified. On Holy Thursday he will visit the prison of Velletri, south of Rome, where he will wash the feet of 12 prisoners.

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