What is the reason behind saying 12 Gospels during Matins on Palm Sunday?

edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
Hi All,

I'm doing a presentation tomorrow about Palm Sunday,

Can someone give me a detailed description of the following:

1. Why do we say 12 gospels during matins & why exactly 12?
2. Why do we say the gospels at these specific locations inside the church? i.e. At the front of Icon of Archangel Ghobrial etc?

thanks, your fast response is much appreciated.


  • there is a contemplation about it in the following link:

    According to Treasures of the Fathers of the Church (Pascha edition), the early Christians would have a large procession in Jerusalem, praying the psalms and hymns in commemoration of Christ's Passion which occurred at those sites. So, we are following the same tradition by doing this, except we are not stopping at the literal sites of where Christ was, but we do symbolically stop at the icon of the saints who were impacted by the love of Christ in their lives.
  • Thanks a lot for the reply, Any idea why we do 3 rounds around the Altar, 3 rounds around the church, & then 1 around the Altar? Why are these numbers? I know they have to add up to 7, but why exactly 3+3+1?
  • The book says that, Palm Sunday fell near the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, on which the Jews would circle the altar seven times with psalms singing "hosanna." The church continued this tradition where we circle the altar six times (three during vespers and three in matins), while the seventh circuit is performed around the entire church, and is completed in the altar. Each circuit begins in the altar, indicating that the procession of the redeemed believers starts by God's plan of Christ's self oblation.

    The reason why the seventh is done around the entire church is related to the procession of the early Christians in Jerusalem which began at the Mount of Olives and ended in the Church of Golgotha. Although this procession was conducted in the afternoon, in later centuries, virtually every group of Christians began to circuit the church during the liturgy.

    Also, it is interesting to note that in Joshua 6, God orders the Israelites to march around the walls of Jericho for six days, while on the seventh day the had marched seven times and with a great shout the walls of Jericho fell. No doubt this ancient tradition had something to do with Jewish customs in certain feasts but I remember reading a contemplation from Fr. Athanasius Iskander's book (Understanding the Liturgy) in which he refers to this wall as a wall of sin/death that had dominion over the followers of God, and by re-enacting this in our services, we are asking that God tear down the walls sin/death in our lives in order to unite with Him.

    If you wish to know more...I highly recommend buying this book at the link below:

    It is the pascha version
    God bless
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