Palm Sunday (celebrated today by Western Christianity, while Orthodox Palm Sunday will fall exactly one week from now) marks the start of the Christian Holy Week. This week, then, Folia Magazine will take a look at the many depictions of the Passion of Christ in medieval manuscripts by focusing on the events and festivities leading to Easter Sunday.
Palm Sunday, always falling on the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Each and every canonical Gospel narrates that, on this occasion, Jesus entered the Holy City riding a donkey - thus fulfilling a prophecy made by Zechariah. Having heard of his arrival, a festive crowd soon gathered around Jesus, spreading branches (traditionally palm branches) and cloaks on the ground before him, all the while shouting and singing "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!".
Today, many Catholic and Episcopal churches celebrate the Feast with special services which include a procession. Due to the difficulty of procuring palm branches in many climates, most communities opt for the use of various native trees, such as box, willow, yew and olive.
"Entry into Jerusalem", illumination from a "Bible Historiale", ms. Harley 4382, f. 172v, between 1403 and 1404, British Library, London.