Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the June AD 2000
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

    Question: What do the palm branches blessed on Palm Sunday signify? What were those other branches you blessed?

    Answer: On Palm Sunday, Catholics bless the branches of palm and olive trees. Other branches may be used if necessary, and, often enough, palms alone are blessed (we were fortunate this year to have a parishioner bring us some olive branches a few days beforehand). Like many religious symbols, palm and olive branches have several meanings.

    Both plants were well known to the Jews of the Bible. The palm was an oasis plant; one that grew in watered regions of the desert, with some species bearing edible fruit, and many being used for construction, small fabrication, and even clothing. It is mentioned in connection with the exodus from Egypt, the celebration of the harvest festival in the promised land, and as a decoration of the temple in Jerusalem. The olive fruit can be rendered edible, and its oil is used for numerous purposes; cooking obviously, medicine, and sacramental anointing. The name "Christ" means the "anointed One," referring to the ancient custom of anointing kings and priests. The olive branch has been associated with God's peace ever since Noe's dove returned to the Ark with a branch in its mouth.

    As modern people, looking back over the events of Holy Week, we can surely think of the blessed branches as a reminder of the Kingship of Christ, who was born a king "into the world, to bear witness to the truth."2  They also ought to call to mind the fickle nature we share with the people of Jerusalem, who spread a carpet of branches in His path on Sunday only to demand His crucifixion on Friday -- a reminder that it is all too easy to fall from grace to sin. Nonetheless, here are some of the more significant prayers of the Palm Sunday blessing, so that our readers can draw their own conclusions:

Let us pray. We beseech Thee, O Holy Lord, Father almighty, and everlasting God, that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless + and sanctify + this creature, the Olive tree, which Thou hast caused to shoot forth from the substance of wood, and which the dove, returning to the ark, brought in its mouth. May all who receive it receive protection of soul and body, and may it become, O Lord, a saving remedy and a sacred sign of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who with Thee . . . world without end. Amen.

Let us pray. O God, who dost gather what is dispersed, and dost preserve what is gathered together; who didst bless the people who went forth to meet Jesus, bearing branches of palm; bless + likewise these branches of palm and olive, which Thy servants receive faithfully in honor of Thy name. May those who dwell in whatever place they are brought obtain Thy blessing, find all adversity removed, and be protected by Thy right hand; those who have been redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son . . . world without end. Amen.

Let us pray. O God, who, by a wonderful order and disposition, hast been pleased to manifest the dispensation of our salvation even by means of things insensible; grant, we beseech Thee, that the devout hearts of Thy faithful may profitably understand what is mystically signified, when on this day the multitude, taught by a heavenly illumination, went forth to meet their Redeemer, and strewed branches of palm and olive at His feet. The branches of palms, therefore, signify His triumphs over the prince of death; and the branches of olive proclaim the coming of a spiritual unction. For that blessed company of men understood that these things were then prefigured; that our Redeemer, compassionating human miseries, was about to fight with the prince of death for the life of the whole world, and, by dying, to triumph. For which cause, they dutifully ministered such things as signified in Him the triumphs of victory and the riches of mercy. And we also, with full faith, retaining this as done and signified, humbly beseech Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, that in Him and through Him, whose members Thou hast pleased to make us, we may become victorious over the empire of death, and may deserve to be partakers of His glorious resurrection. Who liveth .... world without end. Amen.


1. Exodus xv; Leviticus xxiii; 3 Kings vi-vii.

2. John xviii: 37.


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Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
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