Relief above the main entrance on the church façade.

The motif

Jesus is riding a donkey, surrounded by people waving palm branches, spreading their garments on the way and strewing flowers before him.

The story

Jesus was headed to Jerusalem with his disciples to celebrate Passover, and he asked them to fetch a colt that no one had yet ridden on. The Gospel according to Mark says: “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!”

With the entry an old dream came true: the dream that a new king, a Messiah, would take the throne. As so much else in the life of Jesus, this was also predicted by the old prophets. The book of Zechariah says: “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”. The entry took place on the Sunday before Easter and is celebrated as Palm Sunday.

The facts

In 1819 a frieze of ’Christ on his way to Golgatha’ was commissioned to be placed above the main entrance. It was later changed so that a relief of the ’The entry into Jerusalem’ was commissioned in 1838.
Thorvaldsen made a sketch during his stay at Nysø Manor in November 1839, and the relief was finally put up in plaster in 1840 by the sculptor H.E. Freund and his students.