A number of the activities I’m involved in happen in the neighbourhood called Prati which is on the other side of the Vatican from where we live. The quickest way to get there is to cross Piazza San Pietro which is always interesting as there’s often something going, on in addition to the many tourists walking around. A few days ago, I watched with amazement as a huge gardening truck carrying several small olive trees, stopped by the obelisk at the centre and unloaded them. On my way back, the trees had been planted around the obelisk. I thought perhaps the Pope had decided on some novel garden landscaping but when I related this news about the olive trees to Fidz, he said “its for Palm Sunday”. He told me that here in Italy, its traditional to place baskets of olive branches in church and people take the branches home after Mass and hang them inside the front door.
Palm Sunday, which is the sunday before Easter, commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem where he was supposedly greeted with people waving palm branches. We were in a small village just outside Rome and this morning the church was packed. Some people were walking out of church with big bunches of olive branches even before the Mass had ended. Somehow, word must have gone out that the olive branches were running out as all of a sudden a car drove up and unloaded a whole pile more. These were carried into church and placed in a basket at the back while the service was going on. I didn’t wait to see the people coming out into the Piazza carrying their olive branches after Mass as my companions were eager to go for a walk but it was all quite fascinating!