(AsiaNews) - " Today, our procession is one of salvation, the Lord himself is our
salvation. Jesus, the King of Peace, came to Jerusalem, a city that has
never known peace", said Msgr. Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem pointing
out the significance
of Palm Sunday celebrated this year in front of over 35 thousand
faithful from all over the world. In his homily, the prelate encouraged all
present to pray for the Holy Land so that this feast may represent "the
rejection of all violence" and invited everyone to "let the Lord enter our hearts and our lives,
to heal our wounds and our divisions, to strengthen us in our weakness and give
us the courage to persevere in the midst of trials."
year, the Israeli police counted 15,000 people. This year, 35,000 olive
branches and woven palms were displayed and raised on the procession from
Bethphage through the Mount of Olives to the Old City of Jerusalem, with an
imposing security system both in the air and on the ground. Despite the shift of the Easter dates in the
Diocese and the number of permits (6,000 this year - only half compared to last year) issued
to Palestinians by the Israeli authorities, the crowd was dense.
Banners were held high by some parishioners, with the names of the Latin
Patriarchate Parishes: Aboud, Ramallah, Jifna, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit
the Church of Bethphage (where Jesus mounted the donkey), the faithful began
marching in droves and with joy to cries of "Hosanna." The sun shone
brightly upon this show of music and color; an international dance of drums,
guitars, languages and fervor, with many wearing native Palestinian clothing.
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal walked at the back of
the procession with the Franciscans and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre,
alongside some heads of the other Catholic Churches of the Holy Land and the
Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto who is also the
Apostolic Delegate for the Palestinian Territories.
Palm Sunday morning, the Patriarch presided over the Procession with Palms and
the Pontifical Mass at the Altar of St. Mary Magdalene at the Holy Sepulchre.
The previous night, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land,
celebrated the Vigil of Palm Sunday in the Chapel of the Apparition and the
Holy Mass at Calvary.
only the Catholic areas of Bethlehem and Jerusalem celebrate Easter according
to the Gregorian calendar. Most
of the Catholic communities in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and
Cyprus in fact follow the Julian calendar and begin Holy Week with the Orthodox
Christians in the first week of May. The
unification of the dates of Easter was announced on 15 October 2012 by the
bishops of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, where it was established
that within two years all the Catholics of the diocese of the Latin Rite and
the various Eastern rites will celebrate Easter according to the Julian
calendar. (C. L.)