Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, where the original Entrance took place.

You can see the Muslim Dome of the Rock in the background. It is built on the Temple Mount, the site of Solomon's and Herod's temples.

From AP

Sun Mar 16, 4:32 PM

By Laurie Copans, The Associated Press

JERUSALEM - Waving palm fronds, thousands of Christians from around the world celebrated Palm Sunday, walking the path they believe Jesus rode on his donkey as he entered Jerusalem days before his crucifixion.

The procession with the top Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, Patriarch Michel Sabbah, started at the Bethphage Church, where tradition says Jesus mounted the donkey. Participants walked up to the Mount of Olives, then down to the ancient stone walls of the Old City.

Marching pilgrims strummed guitars, some of them wearing "I love Jesus" shirts, as they braved unseasonable heat in an early Jerusalem springtime.

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus' followers shaking branches to greet him as he entered the holy city. The festivities mark the start of Holy Week when, according to the New Testament, Jesus was betrayed by Judas, crucified and then resurrected on Easter Sunday.

"It gives you a chance to actually feel what Christ went through, because it's a steep hill," said Norman Dsilva, 47, a financial analyst from Concord, N.H., as he waited for the walk to begin.

Michelle Alignay, 28, a preschool teacher from San Diego, Calif., was visiting the Holy Land for the first time.

"All your life you grow up learning, and now I am finally able to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and see where it all happened," Alignay said. "It wasn't just a story."

Even some Jewish Israelis joined the procession this year as part of a course they are taking called "Between Judaism and Christianity." Their Hebrew mixed with the Arabic of the Palestinian teenage scouts from the West Bank city of Ramallah in the courtyard of the Bethphage Church as they waited for the patriarch to arrive.

Outside, hundreds of believers crowded the street, singing hymns. Nearby, exhausted from the wait and burning sun, one toddler with ice cream streaming out of her mouth crawled out of her stroller and lay on the sidewalk, crying as her mother bent to pick her up.

Israel granted the Palestinian scouts special permission to enter Jerusalem for the festivities. For many years, during the height of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, they were not allowed in, the scouts said.

Some pilgrims said they were wary of coming, concerned by recent bloodshed, including a Palestinian shooting attack on a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem in which eight Israelis were killed, as well as violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel.

"It's amazing to be here," Ramallah resident Alexandra Nafi, 20, said after she applied lipstick in a corner of the cobblestone churchyard. "But we are afraid a little bit in general because of the violence. I feel like something is going to happen any minute."

Taxi drivers said Sunday the number of tourists showed that few had been scared away by the violence. The fighting that began in 2001 seriously damaged the local tourism industry, but it has rebounded in recent years.

The Celebration by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Michael Sabbah.

He's one of the best dressed Catholic prelates, IMHO.

The celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. You can see the tomb of Jesus, the Anastasis, below.

The Franciscan Friars as the Custodians of the Holy Places in the Holy Land. In accordance with an ancient tradition started by St. Paul, a collection is taken for the maintenance of the Holy Places and the support of Christians in the Holy Land. It's normally taken on Good Friday, so remember to give generously!!!

My parish priest, Fr. Marshall and a group of pilgrims from my parish are in the Holy Land at this time for a pilgrimage and probably took part in the celebrations above. Do keep them in your prayers that through this journey to the Holy Places in the footsteps of Christ they may be conformed more and more into His image.


-CHUNG CHIN FONG- 钟泉锋 said...

Thanks for the interesting sharings!

Andrew said...

Chin Fong, you're welcome. And I'm glad you enjoyed it.