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26 December 2011

Bethpage

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The Place of the Palms

The is located on the eastern part of the Mount of Olives. This is the site of the celebration of the beginning of Jesus’ messianic entrance into the Holy City while the disciples and the crowd enthusiastically sang "Hosanna".

Convento delle Palme
- P.O.B. 186 - Betfage
- 91001 Jerusalem
- ISRAEL

Sanctuary Visiting Hours

8.00-12.00; 14.00-17.00

Tel.: 02-628.43.52
- Fax: 02-628.43.52

Christian Tradition

The memory of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem was celebrated in very ancient days in much the same way that we celebrate it today: "The Sunday that opens the paschal week... all the people climb up the Mount of Olives... When the eleventh hour arrives (that is, five o’clock in the afternoon), the Gospel passage that talks about the children who went before the Lord carrying branches and palms is read... The bishop rises to his feet, and all the people with him. From there, that is, from the top of the Mountain, we continue on foot; the bishop constantly sings hymns and antiphons; ’Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. All the children, even those who cannot walk because they are too small and are carried on their parents’ shoulders, have branches in their hands, either palm or olive. In the same way that the Lord was escorted, the bishop is escorted. From the top of the mountain we continue to the city and then, after crossing the city, to the Anastasis." (Etheria, end of 4th century).

Beginning in the 9th century the procession began even farther away: "About a mile away (from the site of the Ascension) is the place where Jesus sat upon the foal of an ass. There is an olive tree there from which every year, after paying the price, one cuts a branch; in this way, one enters Jerusalem in procession on the Day of Palms" (the monk Ephiphanus). Mention has been made of the existence of a 4th century church in memory of Jesus’ meeting with the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary on the Bethany road. (According to Etheria). In 1870, a villager found a dressed stone bearing Crusader-epic paintings that represented the two events of the resurrection of Lazarus and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. After the land was purchased, a little sanctuary was built there, which was named Bethpage. It was restored to its present form in 1954. The procession that commemorates the event had ceased to exist by the end of the Crusader reign. It was taken up again in the 16th to 17th century by the Franciscans, with the Father Custos seated on the foal of an ass, representing Christ. Since 1933, the procession has been able to reclaim its very solemn nature, and is presided over by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

The site

Route of the Palm Sunday Procession

From Bethpage to Jerusalem:

- 1. Sanctuary and Franciscan monastery at Bethpage
- 2. Carmelite monastery of the Pater Noster
- 3. Small building of the Ascension of the Lord
- 4. Dominus Flevit Sanctuary
- 5. Russian Orthodox church dedicated to Saint Mary Madeleine
- 6. Gethsemane
- 7. Tomb of the Virgin Mary and Grotto of the Arrest
- 8. Site of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen
- 9. Saint Stephen’s Gate - Bab Sitti Mariam
- 10. Probatic Pool

Biblical Text

Entry of the Messiah to Jerusalem

As he drew near to Bethpage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. He said, "Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. And if anyone should ask you, ’Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ’The Master has need of it.’" So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying this colt?" They answered, "The Master has need of it." So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest." Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He said in reply, "I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!"

(Luke 19:29-40)