March 31, 2007

The Roman tradition uses olive branches on Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion.

[I posted this last year.]

The Missal in Latin (from which we draw our English translations) tells us that the ashes on Ash Wednesday are to be made from olive branches blessed the previous year, but that other branches may be used (no mention being made of palms).

However, our English translations of the Missal completely disguise the fact that olive branches are the primary choice.

(Agenzia Giornalistica Italia) - Vatican, Saturday, April 8 - A hundred thousand olive branches have arrived from Puglia, sent to the Vatican in four refrigerator containers. Pope Benedict XVI will bless them tomorrow during the Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's Square and they will be issued to the Catholics who are there. However, tomorrow afternoon, they will also be given out in the chapels of Roman hospitals and in other parishes. Six magnificent olive trees will decorate St. Peter's church square during the mass and will stay there for the entire Holy Week, until the mass on Easter Sunday. After the festivities, they will be planted in the Vatican gardens. This project is being called "The Puglia Garden, roots of peace". In addition to the olive trees, there will be 45,000 palms and 500,000 stems from the Mediterranean area. Thirty different arrangements will line the Pope's path from St. Peter's church square to the altar. Forty expert florists have been called to create the arrangements. This is part of the Terlizzi florists' co-operative "Project 2000", a project which involves flower growers and olive tree producers on a voluntary basis. "A garden from Puglia will represent peace and St. Peter's brotherly love during the Holy Week", the regional agricultural councillor, Pietro Pepe, told journalists. He pointed out that this was "a project that is effective and rich in meaning. It is a sign of a council which sees the olive as a universal symbol, one that is represented in the Region's coat of arms, and our region produces a lot of olives".


The following are links to photos that The Roamin’ Roman has posted on her blog.

One of six olive trees decorating St. Peter Square in Rome for Palm Sunday and all of Holy Week

Mounds of olive branches arranged as decorations of the pavement for the pope's Mass

Clergy with olive branches in the pope's Palm Sunday procession


Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...


1:34 PM  
Blogger dilexitprior said...

The Benedictine Abbey I went to for Mass this morning (Westminster Abbey, British Columbia) used cedar branches, which I've never seen before. I had noticed in the past that olive branches are used at St. Peter's but I didn't realize this was the preference. Any church I've been to before has used palm branches.

As a side note, the liturgy at the Abbey was absolutely beautiful. Hearing the entire Gospel sung really helped me to pay particular attention to what was being read.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Banshee said...

Before palm branches were easy to get, most northern European countries used stuff like pussywillows. Or reeds, I think.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...


Dear Banshee,

Many Europeans still use pussywillows. I've even seen them in a Serbian Orthodox church here in San Diego. If olive branches are not available, any branches are permissible.

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I know that the people just tore branches from the trees and our parish now asks people to bring their own branches instead of palms.

When I was a child the palm was stuck behind a holy picture until just before Ash Wednesday when it was taken to the church to be burnt.

Now we have any kind of branches the bits fall off everywhere and many are discarded in the parking lot. I have a problem with this since the branches are blessed so I usually don't bring anything because I have spent so much time in the past picking up dead leaves to dispose of in the garden.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Anonymous, your comment arrived twice. I have posted it only once, and simply deleted the duplicate. I don't know how this function works on the receiver's (your) end, so I don't know if you will receive a notice that your comment has been rejected. If you do, it's because I rejected the duplicate only.

6:53 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

Click HERE to go back to the front page of this blog.