Pope Francis led the world’s Catholics into Easter by presiding for the first time at a solemn vigil Mass on Saturday evening in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Easter Sunday is the climax of Christian Holy week being the day Jesus is said to have risen from the dead.
Just before the vigil Francis had contributed a message to a live broadcast of the Turin Shroud.
It is only the second time the linen cloth has been televised. Viewers were able to see what appears to be the imprint of a man’s body.
Although many believe it to be the image of Jesus, the pontiff described it as an “icon” but did not authenticate is as a genuine relic.
Christians world wide are in the midst of Easter celebrations. In Bethlehem, Catholic worshippers also held a candlelit Easter Eve vigil at the Church of Nativity.
Tradition has it that the church was built over the birthplace of Jesus, which lies in a grotto beneath the building.