4,000 believers and priests take part in Palm Sunday pilgrimage in Bucharest


Patriarch Daniel: The Florii is a holiday that marks the emergence out of selfishness.

The Orthodox Christians celebrated yesterday Palm Sunday.  It is the feast commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where mobs welcomed Him with palm boughs. On this day, the Christian Orthodox church celebrates the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem after completing His final great miracles: The raising of Lazarus of Bethany, brother of Mary and Martha, who had been dead for four days. For this, the people of Jerusalem welcome Jesus the next day, Sunday, with green branches of palm (symbol of immortality).
The ‘Florii’ or ‘Duminica Vlastarilor’ (Seedlings’ Sunday) is the name by which the last Sunday of Lent is known informally.  In Romania where no palm trees are available, palm branches are substituted with boughs of box, yew or willow, or other native trees, and therefore Romanians use to take willow branches to be blessed at church, on Palm Sunday. Afterwards, the willow branches are fetched home and hung above the door cases and the window frames and above the gates, because they are believed they protect the houses and the folks living there. In Romanian spirituality the ‘Florii’ also represent a joyful celebration of nature’s revival, in Romanian beliefs, willow twigs being the divalent expression of fertility and immortality, being also used in therapeutic purifying practices.
This Saturday, approximately 4,000 believers and priests took part in the Florii pilgrimage that started in the capital at ‘Radu Voda’ Monastery and ended at the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral, where the pilgrims were greeted by Patriarch Daniel. The procession was led by bell board bearers followed by about 800 priests from Bucharest and Ilfov, who wore golden church clothes and held date palm twigs, and culminated with over 3,000 church goers swaying willow twigs and flowers.
A large icon depicting the Savior’s coming to Jerusalem, adorned with green orchids and beads and donated by the North and South Ilfov deaneries, was born in the procession from the ‘Radu Voda’ Monastery to the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral where it was sanctified by Patriarch Daniel after the ceremony was concluded.
The Patriarch welcomed the pilgrims to the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral. After giving them his blessing, he delivered a sermon about the importance of the pilgrimage for Christians. Patriarch Daniel told the believers present in the Cathedral that the pilgrimage is a public confession of faith, the manifestation of Christian love, it stands for communion and is a blessing for each of the towns in which it is observed. “The Palm Sunday pilgrimage means hope, and as Lazarus rose from the dead on the fourth day, Palm Sunday is a holiday that signifies the emergence out of selfishness. It is a calling to identify the Christian community,” the Patriarch said further. Florii processions were organized Saturday in all Romanian Patriarchy dioceses both throughout the country and abroad.
President Traian Basescu also sent a message on occasion of Palm Sunday celebration.  “I am sending out my best thoughts and my sincere wishes of good health to all those celebrating their name day today, on Palm Sunday. Let this Christian holiday be a moment of joy for all of us, together with our loved ones, but also a moment of reflection upon the true values of our spirituality!,” the head of state says in his message.
Almost 1.5 million Romanians celebrate name day
Almost 1.5 million Romanians, 634,935 men and 850,848 women, bearing names of flowers, celebrate their name day, on Palm Sunday, say statistical data supplied by the Ministry of Administration and the Interior Directorate for People Records and Database Management.  Most of the Romanian women who celebrate their name day on Palm Sunday are called Viorica, Florentina, Florica, Floarea, Florina, Camelia, Lacramioara, Crina, Margareta, while men bear names like Florin, Viorel, Florian, Mugurel, Trandafir, Florea, Florentin, Florinel, Crin. One single male is named Floricica.

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