Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Palm Sunday History, Information, Prayers, Resources, Traditions, & More

Palm Sunday Definition and Summary

Palm Sunday is the Sunday that starts Holy Week. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday falls on Sunday, April 5th in 2020 (dates in other years). Prayer: Palm Sunday Prayer

Basic Facts About Palm 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, Dominica in Palmis, Kyriake, Heorte Ton Baion, Heorte Baiophoros
Scriptural References: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40


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 official name), the first Sunday of Holy Week within Lent, commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem before his passion. As he entered, the people of Jerusalem proclaimed him king, as they chanted "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Traditionally, in the Catholic Church, the Palm Sunday service begins with the "blessing of the palms," where the palms used in the procession 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 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.

A Holy Week Video Card From Us

Worship and Prayer Resources

Passion Sermon III by Pope St. Leo
All Glory Laud and Honor
Prayers for Lent

Palm Sunday Art, Photos, and Images

Giotto Entry Intro Jerusalem Thumb
Jesus Enters Jerusalem (Pietro Lorenzetti)

More Liturgical Artwork

Traditions and Symbols

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

Frequently Asked Questions


General Links

"Holy Week" from the Catholic Encyclopedia
All About Lent
All About Holy Week
Table of Movable Major Catholic Seasons and Holidays