Christians around the world are celebrating Palm Sunday to mark the start of Jesus’ Passion and Easter Holy Week.
The sound of bells wafted through the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem’s Old City, calling the faithful to Palm Sunday prayers at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The church is the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection and the holiest place in Christianity.
Under a golden rotunda, priests in red and white robes lead a procession through a fragrant cloud of incense. Pilgrims from around the world waved palm and olive branches, marking Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.
Chad Emmit came from Utah in the United States. “Palm Sunday’s a great day. It is the day that the followers of Christ acknowledged Him as their king as they proceeded into Jerusalem. So it is fun to see people still celebrating that with palm fronds, songs and all kinds of different services. So I think it is wonderful; and there are so many pilgrims coming and it is amazing to see all of them here from all over the world,” he said.
Romel Viloria is from Manila in the Philippines. “I feel happy. Before I am just reading out of the Bible, and now it becomes reality. I am here in the Holy Land and I feel happiness and joy,” he said.
It was a big turnout this year thanks to a long period of relative calm. A throng participated in the traditional procession on the Mount of Olives, retracing the footsteps of Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on a donkey 2,000 years ago.