SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - In the Christian faith, Sunday marked Palm Sunday. It's the culmination of the Lenten season and the start of Holy Week.
Billions of Christians around the world were in church Sunday to celebrate Palm Sunday. It's the feast day that commemorates Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when crowds waved palm branches and placed them in His path to welcome Him.... just days before He would be arrested and crucified.
"Palm Sunday leads to Easter. And so after his suffering and death he experienced the glory of resurrection and it almost coincides with all of nature as we finish the sleep of winter we come into springtime with signs of new life and new hope," said Msgr. Chris Connolly of St. Michael's Cathedral.
"It is just new beginnings. We can put all the old stuff behind us and start anew and that's what we are supposed to do as a Christian people," said Frances Gagnon of Springfield.
This Palm Sunday is an especially meaningful one for Catholics. Not only does it mark the start of Holy Week, but it's also the first one under the leadership of Pope Francis.
The Gospel reading on Palm Sunday is called the Passion-- when priests and parishioners read the narrative of what happened to Jesus leading up to and during His crucifixion. One parishioner told 22News it's a holy tradition that brings her a lot of peace.
"All my life when I don't come to church or something happens to me, I'm not comfortable. When I show my kids my life in church, all my life is complete," said Toma Kodi of Springfield.
This coming Holy Thursday Christians remember Jesus' Last Supper with His Apostles, followed by Good Friday, the day He was crucifed. Then on Easter Sunday Christians everywhere celebrate the holiest day of their church calendar, the day Jesus rose from the dead.
In many churches the palms used on Palm Sunday are saved to create the ashes that will be used the following year on Ash Wednesday-- the beginning of Lent.