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Faithful to Celebrate Easter Sunday, Christianity's Most Holy Day

Pope Francis presides over an Easter vigil ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, April 8, 2023.

Millions of Christians around the world are celebrating Easter Sunday, the most holy day on the Christian calendar, commemorating Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis is set to deliver his twice-annual blessing, known by its Latin name "Urbi et Orbi" — "to the city and the world" — from St. Peter's Basilica.

During the blessing, which will begin at noon on the basilica's outdoor central balcony, the Roman Catholic leader will address Christians around the world.

Last year, the pope made a plea for an end to the "senseless" war in Ukraine, a conflict that at the time had been less than 2 months old. He also called for peace in other parts of the world plagued by armed conflict, including Syria and Iraq.

The pope, who is recovering from bronchitis, followed his doctor's advice and skipped the traditional Good Friday nighttime procession at the Colosseum, which usually lasts more than two hours.

Traditions return after pandemic

In some parts of the world, Easter Week traditions are returning after a three-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of residents in eastern Indonesia held Mass in the Flores Island town of Larantuka for Good Friday and later attended a night parade to mourn the death of Jesus.

In the Philippines, Good Friday traditions also returned after a three-year absence. An estimated 15,000 people in villages north of Manila watched pilgrims flog themselves in displays of religious devotion.

Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day Jesus died on the cross.

Faithful travel to holy sites

In Jerusalem, Christian faithful have been making pilgrimages to holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site where they believe Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead.

On Palm Sunday — a week before Easter — thousands of worshipers carrying palm fronds and olive branches marched from the top of the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem's historic Old City, commemorating Jesus's entry into the city.

Jerusalem is home to Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy sites. This year, Easter coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish festival of Passover.

In Washington, the White House is planning its annual Easter egg roll. About 30,000 people, most of them children, are expected to participate on Monday in the festivities, which date back to 1878.

At the event, first lady Jill Biden will teach children about farming, healthy eating and exercise, according to the White House.

Christians worldwide celebrate Easter by going to church and gathering with family and friends.

The day marks the end of Holy Week, the church's most solemn week, which begins with Palm Sunday, commemorating Jesus's entry into Jerusalem, and includes Holy Thursday, his last supper with disciples; Good Friday, his crucifixion; and Easter Sunday, his resurrection.

Some information in this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.