VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) - Pope Francis remembered the many people suffering from wars and terrorism and warned of "interests that are armed and ready to strike" in his Palm Sunday Mass on Sunday (April 9), in an apparent reference to tensions in the Middle East.
Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week that culminates next Sunday (April 16) on Easter, commemorates the day Christians believe Jesus entered Jerusalem welcomed as the messiah only to be crucified five days later.
Francis, marking the fifth Easter season of his pontificate, blessed palm and olive branches in the centre of St Peter's Square before saying Mass for tens of thousands of people in St Peter's Square.
Palm Sunday marks the start of a hectic week for the Pope.
On Thursday (April 13) he visits a prison south of Rome to wash and kiss the feet of 12 inmates in a ceremony commemorating Jesus' gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.
On Good Friday (April 14), he leads the traditional Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession at Rome's Colosseum.
He holds an Easter eve service on Saturday (April 15) and on Easter Sunday he reads his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica.