Palm crosses, croci di palma and palmsonntag

Luci Callipari-Marcuzzo

These palm crosses were made as part of my Bachelor of Visual Arts Honours year in 2013.

The crosses grew out of an obsession I developed with Anselm Kiefer’s work Palmsonntag, shown as part of the exhibition Anselm Kiefer : aperiatur terra, recent work, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2007. Kiefer’s work was inspired by the Catholic liturgy for Lent and Palm Sunday. The large scale installation included an inscription of text from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah;

Aperiatur terra et germinat Salvatorem… rorate caeli desuper, et pluant iustum. (Let the earth open and bring forth a Saviour …. Let the clouds above rain down justice on the earth.)

Isaiah 45.8

Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In many Christian churches, Palm Sunday includes a procession of the assembled worshipers carrying palms, representing the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem.

The tradition of palm cross making for the Palm Sunday mass goes back hundreds of years; the leaves of the palm were often shaped and woven into little crosses and other symbolic designs. This custom was originated by a suggestion in the ceremonial book for bishops that "little crosses of palm" be attached to the boughs wherever true palms are not available in sufficient quantity.

The crosses are blessed before the church service and are then given to worshipers to take home, these are kept for twelve months, when traditionally they would be burnt to ash and used to mark the foreheads of parishioners attending the Ash Wednesday mass, which marks the beginning of Lent[1], a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Day.

Palm crosses, croci di palma and palmsonntag developed into a collaborative effort after three friends (Jennifer Britten, Heather Lee and Antonette Zema) and I spent one Saturday afternoon at my home and together over cups of tea and cake, we made crosses from the palm’s fronds, duplicating those made for the Catholic Palm Sunday mass.


You are invited to take a cross home with you from within the whitecube and place it within your home as is practiced in the Christian tradition.

[1] The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. This event, along with its pious customs are observed by Christians in the Anglican, Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic traditions. Today, some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season.

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