A gift of love and faith

In ancient times, palm branches symbolized goodness. Bishop David Zubik sees that virtue today in a gift that has become a Holy Week tradition.

For five of the last six Palm Sundays, Jeannette Finch of Pittsburgh’s Hill District has arranged to have a cross of palms given to Bishop Zubik. He carried it during Mass Sunday at Saint Paul Cathedral.

Palm Sunday commemorates the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, when palm branches were placed in his path as a sign of homage.

“The Holy Spirit told me to give the bishop a Palm cross,” said Finch, who for more than 40 years as a sacristan has been preparing Saint Benedict the Moor Church for Mass. “I listen to what the Holy Spirit tells me to do.”

“I saw the bishop a few weeks ago, and asked him, ‘Would you like another cross?’ And he said, ‘I would love one,’” Finch said.

The palms are soaked and fashioned into an elaborate cross by a weaver at Immaculate Heart Parish in Polish Hill, then decorated by Finch, who personally delivers the gift.

“Once again, my experience of Palm Sunday has been made even more special by the beautiful cross of Palm, made so by Jeannette Finch,” Bishop Zubik told The Pittsburgh Catholic. “Her faith inspires me.”

Bishop Zubik hands a Palm cross and crozier to Episcopal Master of Ceremonies Erica Gamerro during Mass on Palm Sunday at St. Paul Cathedral. The crozier is a hooked staff carried by a bishop as a symbol of pastoral office.