UNDATED (AP) — Christians around the world are celebrating Easter with Pope Francis leading services in bright sunshine at the Vatican before a packed St. Peters Square.

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Tens of thousands of faithful patiently endured tight security to be near him. Police checked handbags and backpacks of tourists, pilgrims, Romans and journalists ahead of Mass, the pontiff's traditional noontime blessing and speech on world affairs.

For years, Islamist extremists in social media have listed Rome and the Vatican as potential targets.

In the Holy Land, the cavernous Holy Sepulcher church in Jerusalem was also packed with worshippers today. It's the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. There are also services at Bethlehem's Nativity Church, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.