Christians around the world marked Palm Sunday by waving fronds, attending church services, and visiting sites in the Holy Land at the start of the Holy Week that ends with Easter.

Crowds of faithful gathered in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, recognized as the site of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Many waved the fronds to symbolize how worshipers greeted Jesus over 2,000 years ago as he triumphantly returned to Jerusalem. Later in the day, hundreds of Christian pilgrims were expected to march behind a white donkey from the Mount of Olives to the holy city, retracing Jesus' route into Jerusalem.

Worshipers also gathered in the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, considered the site of Jesus' birth, clutching olive branches and bouquets as they sang in praise.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis marked Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square. In keeping with the simple tone of his two-year-old papacy, Francis leaned on a plain wooden pastoral staff instead of a traditionally more ornate one as he stood under a red canopy on the basilica steps. Tens of thousands of faithful held olive branches or palm fronds during Mass under a brilliantly blue sky.

In Nigeria, the faithful attended church a day after millions voted in a presidential election too close to call.

Christians also prayed in religiously diverse Lebanon. Some were refugees who have fled Syria's four-year-long conflict.