Palm Sunday is the Sunday that begins Holy Week.  The sixth and last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, a Sunday of the highest rank, not even a commemoration of any kind being permitted in the Mass.  Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest on Holy Thursday and His Crucifixion on Good Friday.  It thus marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent, and the week when we celebrate the mystery of their salvation through Christ's Death and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Liturgical Color(s): Red

Type of Holiday: Sunday Feast; Holy Day of Obligation

Time of Year: Sixth Sunday of Lent

Duration: One Day

Celebrates/Symbolizes: Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Alternate Names: Passion Sunday, Fig Sunday, Passion Sunday, Sunday of the Passion, Yew Sunday, Branch Sunday, Entry of the Lord Into Jerusalem 

Scripture Reference:

Matthew 21:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

The Triumphal Entry

And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two disciples,


2 Saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them and bring them to me.


3 And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye, that the Lord hath need of them: and forthwith he will let them go.


4 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:


5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion: Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is used to the yoke.


6 And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them.


7 And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them, and made him sit thereon.


8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way:


9 And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.


10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this?


11 And the people said: This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee.

The Triumphal Entry

(Zechariah 9:9-13; Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19)


And when they were drawing near to Jerusalem and to Bethania at the mount of Olives, he sendeth two of his disciples,


2 And saith to them: Go into the village that is over against you, and immediately at your coming in thither, you shall find a colt tied, upon which no man yet hath sat: loose him, and bring him.


3 And if any man shall say to you, What are you doing? say ye that the Lord hath need of him: and immediately he will let him come hither.


4 And going their way, they found the colt tied before the gate without, in the meeting of two ways: and they loose him.


5 And some of them that stood there, said to them: What do you loosing the colt?


6 Who said to them as Jesus had commanded them; and they let him go with them.


7 And they brought the colt to Jesus; and they lay their garments on him, and he sat upon him.


8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way.


9 And they that went before and they that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.


10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh: Hosanna in the highest.


11 And he entered into Jerusalem, into the temple: and having viewed all things round about, when now the eventide was come, he went out to Bethania with the twelve.

Luke 19:28-40

The Triumphal Entry

(Zechariah 9:9-13; Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; John 12:12-19)


28 And having said these things, he went before, going up to Jerusalem.


29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethania, unto the mount called Olivet, he sent two of his disciples,


30 Saying: Go into the town which is over against you, at your entering into which you shall find the colt of an ass tied, on which no man ever hath sitten: loose him, and bring him hither.


31 And if any man shall ask you: Why do you loose him? you shall say thus unto him: Because the Lord hath need of his service.


32 And they that were sent, went their way, and found the colt standing, as he had said unto them.


33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said to them: Why loose you the colt?


34 But they said: Because the Lord hath need of him.


35 And they brought him to Jesus. And casting their garments on the colt, they set Jesus thereon.


36 And as he went, they spread their clothes underneath in the way.


37 And when he was now coming near the descent of mount Olivet, the whole multitude of his disciples began with joy to praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty works they had seen,


38 Saying: Blessed be the king who cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory on high!


39 And some of the Pharisees, from amongst the multitude, said to him: Master, rebuke thy disciples.


40 To whom he said: I say to you, that if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.


And as he rode [into Jerusalem), they spread their garments on the road. As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:36-38, RSV)


Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion (the full name), the first Sunday of Holy Week within the Lenten Season, commemorates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem preceding his passion. As he entered, the people of Jerusalem recognized him as their king, saying "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"


Traditionally in the Western Church the Palm Sunday service begins with the "blessing of the palms," where the palms used in the procession that follows are blessed. It is during this time that the story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem is read. Then a procession into the church building follows. If there cannot be a procession from the outside of the church, a solemn entrance, taking place entirely within the church, may be done. The hymns and psalmody are related to Christ's office as King. Traditionally the Gloria Laus (i.e. All Glory Laud and Honor), written by Theodulf of Orleans, is sung. Many times the worship service contains a "preaching of the passion," where different events in the last days of Christ are read publicly within the Eucharistic service. In modern Catholic services, the priest and/or a combination of readers read aloud Matthew 26:14-27:66 (Year A), Mark 14:1—15:47 (Year B), or Luke 22:14-23:56 (Year C).


Palm Sunday is also called Fig Sunday, because figs were traditionally eaten that day, memorializing the fig tree cursed by Christ after his entry into Jerusalem. In England Palm Sunday was called Olive or Branch Sunday, Sallow or Willow, Yew or Blossom Sunday, or Sunday of the Willow Boughs, named for the local replacements for the traditional palm branches.


Various customs have developed to celebrate Palm Sunday. In the Slavic countries, the faithful walked through their buildings and fields with the blessed palms, praying and singing ancient hymns. They then laid palm pieces on each plot of ground, in every barn, building, and stable, as a petition was made for protection from weather and disease, and for a blessing upon the produce and property.




The pilgrim Egeria attests to a Palm Sunday procession taking place in the Jerusalem Church at the end of the 4th century. In the Gallican Bobbio Missal of the 8th century we find a reference to blessing of the palms, which symbolize the victory of Christ. The more elaborate celebrations of the Middle Ages have been replaced by simpler services in the Western Church. Many denominations, including Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians celebrate Palm Sunday, in addition to Catholics and Eastern Christians. In most churches, the ashes for Ash Wednesday are derived from burned palms, left over from Palm Sunday liturgies.


Traditions, Symbols, Typology & Prayer

Blessing of the Palms

Eating Figs
Placing Palm Pieces at Different Locations
Singing the Gloria Laus

The Palm Branch

Palm Sunday Games and Educational Materials

Lent Crossword Puzzle (html)
Lent Crossword Puzzle (pdf)
Interactive Lent Crossword Puzzle
This Section written by . Last updated 01-04-2015.

Mediation by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Passion Sunday / Palm Sunday.  We now come to the Sunday with a split personality. It starts with an upbeat gospel recounting Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  It is a festive affair, complete with a parade route strewn with palm branches instead of ticker tape.  But we quickly progress to the stark reading of Jesus’ passion, bearable only because we already know its happy ending.  Mel Gibson’s film did us a favor in reminding us how shockingly brutal the whole business really was.

 Two names for the same day: Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.  I propose a third name: Fickle Sunday.  For the same crowd that was cheering during the parade was jeering a few days later.  They’d been wowed by his sermons, fed with loaves and fishes, healed of their diseases, delivered of their demons.  But as soon as the tide began to turn, so did they.  Their cries of “Hosanna” turned to shouts of a very different kind: “Crucify him!”


Of course, he was not surprised in the least.  The gospels tell us that he knew the human mind and heart all too well.  He was not fooled by all the acclamations and fanfare.  Flattery could not swell his head.  He had no illusions of grandeur or ambition for worldly glory.  In fact, our second reading tells us that He had willingly emptied Himself of heavenly glory in pursuit of His true passion – His Fathers will and our salvation.  


Jesus “set his face like flint.”  He was on a mission and nothing would deter him.  He barreled through barriers that usually stop us dead in our tracks–fear of ridicule, fear of suffering, abandonment by our closest companions.  He was willing to endure the sting of sin to blot out sin, and was eager to face death in order to overcome it.

 He did indeed have a “well-trained tongue.”  His words had mesmerized the crowds, intrigued Herod and even made Pilate stop and think.  But now his lips are strangely silent. All the gospels point out that he said very little during his passion, collecting only seven brief statements from the cross.  Maybe this was to fulfill the Scripture that said “like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53: 7b).  Actually, everything that happened in these fateful hours fulfilled Scripture. Isaiah 50 had foretold the beating and mockery.  Psalm 22 lays it all out hundreds of years before it happens: his thirst, the piercing of his hands and feet by Gentiles (called “dogs” by the Jews), and the casting of lots for his clothing.  The opening line of this psalm happens to be “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Could it be that the Lord uttered this phrase to remind us that this was all in the plan?

So the virtual silence of his well-trained tongue was to fulfill Scripture.  But there was another reason for his silence. Though Jesus was destined to preach on Good Friday, the message was not to be delivered in words.  The language of this sermon was to be "body language."  Good Friday, according to Jewish reckoning, actually began at sundown on Holy Thursday.  So on the beginning of his final day, Jesus gave us the verbal caption of his last and greatest sermon: “This is my body, given for you; this is my blood, which is poured out for you.”

 “I love you” is not so much something you say as something you demonstrate.  Diamonds may be a moving testimony to love, but the laying down of one’s life is even more compelling.  And though this life is human and therefore vulnerable, it is also divine and therefore infinite in value.  A gift so valuable that it outweighs every offense committed from the dawn of time till the end of the world.  A gift so powerful that it melts hearts, opens the barred gates of paradise, and makes all things new.


by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.  of "The Crossroads Initiative"

"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord"


Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing full well what awaited him -- betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion.  The people of Jerusalem, however, were ready to hail him as their Messianic King!  Little did they know what it would cost this king to usher in his kingdom.   Jesus' entry into Jerusalem astride a colt was a direct fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah (9:9): Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion.  Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem.  Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, and riding on an ass and upon a colt the foal of an ass.  The colt was a sign of peace.  Jesus enters Jerusalem in meekness and humility, as the Messianic King who brings victory and peace to his people. That victory and peace would be secured in the cross and resurrection which would take place in a matter of days at the time of Passover.   Psalm 24 is another prophetic passage which echoes this triumphal procession of the King of glory: Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors!  that the King of glory may come in.  Jesus Christ came to bring us the kingdom of God.  He is the true King who offers peace, joy, and everlasting life for those who accept his kingship.  Does the King of glory find a welcome entry in your heart and home?  Do your walls echo with the praise of his glory?


"Lord Jesus Christ, may you always be the King of my heart and the Ruler of my home. Let your peace reign in my life that I may find joy in your presence now and forever." 


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