Pope Benedict has presided over Good Friday services in Saint Peter's Basilica, the first such ceremonies of his pontificate.
Friday evening, Benedict will take part in the traditional Way of the Cross procession at the Coliseum, a ritual that recalls the hours leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.
On Good Friday, Christians commemorate the crucifixion and on Easter Sunday they celebrate what they believe was the resurrection of Jesus.
In Jerusalem, thousands of Christians Friday walked along the cobblestone streets of the Old City, retracing the path that Jesus is believed to have taken. The procession ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site where Jesus is said to have been crucified.
President Bush issued a statement calling the Easter season a time for renewal, thanks and hope.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, at least seven people Friday were nailed to wooden crosses in a re-enactment of the crucifixion.
The annual rite is opposed by religious leaders, but draws huge crowds to the the village of Cutud, north of Manila.
A British national was present at the spectacle, saying he had planned to participate, but he refused when it was time to be nailed to the cross.
In observance of Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict washed the feet of 12 men at a Mass in Rome's Saint John Lateran Basilica, commemorating the action of Jesus on the evening before his crucifixion.
He also gave a tribute to an Italian priest, Andrea Santoro, who was shot and killed February 5 in Turkey. A youth protesting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad killed the cleric.
This year marks the first Easter season for Pope Benedict. His predecessor, Pope John Paul, was mostly confined to his apartments by his final illness a year ago and died the week after Easter.