AP Photos: Observing Easter around the globe

April 8, 2012 - 5:38 PM
World Holy Week

In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful after the Urbi and Orbi blessing at the end of the Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square at the the Vatican Sunday, April 8, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI in his Easter Sunday message has urged the Syrian regime to heed international calls to end bloodshed and commit to dialogue. After celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Square, Benedict voiced hope that Easter's joy would comfort Christian communities suffering because of their faith. He denounced terrorist attacks in Nigeria that have hit Christians and Muslims alike and prayed for peace in coup-struck Mali. The pope struggled with hoarseness throughout the Mass before a crowd of more than 100,000 faithful. Only hours earlier he had led a three-hour nighttime Easter vigil inside St. Peter's Basilica. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano)

Christians across the world on Sunday celebrated Easter, the faith's most joyous holy day. At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass on the flower-adorned steps of St. Peter's Basilica before a crowd that swelled to far beyond 100,000.

"May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together," the pope said.

In Jerusalem, thousands crowded into one of Christianity's holiest churches to worship. In Britain, Queen Elizabeth II attended a traditional Easter service with three generations of the royal family at Windsor Castle.

And in the U.S., Moravians in Winston-Salem, N.C., gathered for the 240th annual sunrise service in the city — one of the oldest and possibly the largest Easter sunrise service in the nation.

Here's a look at the day's rites and rituals in photos.