On Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017, Pope Francis delivered his message to thousands in St. Peter's Square that was under heavy security. Before speaking, the pope and cardinals in red robes marched as they carried braided palm branches through the thick crowd. Other members of the papal procession followed as they blessed palm and olive branches. This was similar to what happened when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on the day that Christians celebrate as Palm Sunday, which is the last Sunday before Easter Sunday.

Pope's message

Pope Francis introduced his message by saying that the celebration of Palm Sunday was bittersweet.

He described it as joyful and painful at the same time because of what is happening in the world today. While the celebration is about Jesus riding into Jerusalem as a king, it is contrasted with the suffering of people today because of war and terrorism.

On the first day of Holy Week, the 80-year-old pontiff mentioned the suffering that's in the world today. He expressed his deepest condolences to the Egyptian nation. As he was celebrating Palm Sunday in Rome, Coptic churches in Egypt were being bombed. Two blasts killed at least 36 people and wounded over a hundred more. Pope Francis will visit Egypt during a two-day trip on April 28-29.

He said he was praying for those affected in the attack that had occurred just hours earlier before Pope Francis spoke.

The pontiff remembered the victims of the Stockholm attack that happed on Friday night. The leader of the Catholic church also asked God to convert the hearts of those who spread terror and cause harm to innocent victims.

Using Matthew 21:1-11, Pope Francis described the procession of Jesus as he rode on the back of a colt that had never been ridden.

He explained how Jesus received hosannas from the crowd and would hear “Crucify him!” from that same crowd within a few days. After his homily and traditional Sunday blessing, the Pope greeted the people as he circled the area in his Pope mobile.

Palm Sunday services

It is traditional for a Palm Sunday sermon to be preached at Christian churches on the Sunday before Easter.

Even though the messages are different at various churches, they all center around Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt. Then on Easter Sunday, the comparison is made between the crowd that was for him on Palm Sunday and was against him on Good Friday.

Pope Francis will give his Easter address next Sunday that will again bring crowds from far and near to hear his message of hope.