Jerusalem regains the joy of Palm Sunday

Jerusalem, Mar 28 (efe-epa).- Joy returned to Jerusalem’s Palm Sunday procession, in which only locals and foreign residents took part due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A smaller yet crowded parade, featuring music, excitement and the typical waving of palm fronds, was held on Sunday although the ceremony had been suspended last year due to Covid-19.

“On Palm Sunday, we begin Holy Week. This year, thank God, we can celebrate, this year we can. There are a lot of people, not as many as normal, but much better,” Latin Patriarch of Jeruselam Pierbattista Pizzaballa told Efe.

After the blessing of the bouquets and a Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre early in the morning on Palm Sunday, the celebration continued at the Sanctuary of Bethphage, the site of the beginning of Jesus’ messianic entrance into the Holy City, the location of the stone on which Christian tradition says Jesus Christ climbed on to the donkey that brought him into the city more than 2,000 years ago.

No overseas pilgrims may take part in the Holy Week’s celebrations in Jerusalem, given that Israel has closed its borders to foreigners since March 2020 to curb the pandemic.

Christians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip did not participate in the parade as Israel, which controls the borders of the Palestinian occupied territories, has annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem.

Palestinian Catholic communities, however, were in the forefront of the procession at the entrance to the city along with religious communities with a presence in the Holy Land, as well as foreign residents.

“It is very significant to be in this procession after being locked up for a year,” Ana Carmona, a Mexican resident in Jerusalem, told EFE. Holy Week is “more intense” in Jerusalem, she said, compared to that period in her country.

“Our Lord lived here and I am following in his footsteps,” she added.

The beginning of the Holy Week coincided with the Jewish holy week of Passover, which is also being observed.

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