Christians across the world took part in Palm Sunday celebrations on 9 April, marking the start of Holy Week that will end on Easter Sunday (16 April).

Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday commemorates the day Christians believe Jesus entered Jerusalem welcomed as the messiah only to be crucified five days later. Popular traditions include processions with palm branches, the blessing of palms and the construction of small palm crosses. While the story of Palm Sunday is told in all four gospels in the Bible, Matthew 21 is the one that is read at most church services.

Palm Sunday
A layman of the Roman Catholic Church blesses palms during Palm Sunday celebrations in Bulacan, north of Manila, PhilippinesNoel Celis/AFP

Iraqi Christians flocked to the town of Qaraqosh for the first time in three years, packing into the Church of the Immaculate Conception that was previously torched by Islamic State.

Qaraqosh (or Bakhdida) has been a ghost town in recent years, with most residents still too afraid to return because the battle for Mosul, 20 kilometres away, is still raging. Scribbled Islamic State slogans could still be seen on church walls while torn-up prayer books litter the floor. Escorted by soldiers carrying rifles, the congregation then walked through the town for Palm Sunday celebrations.

Palm Sunday
Christian residents of Qaraqosh, Iraq attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State militantsAhmad Gharabli/AFP
Palm Sunday
Christian residents of Qaraqosh, Iraq attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State militantsAhmad Gharabli/AFP
Palm Sunday
Christian residents of Qaraqosh, Iraq attend the first Palm Sunday service at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception, since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State militantsAhmad Gharabli/AFP
Palm Sunday
Crucifixes and icons are seen at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh, Iraq, as Christians mark the first Palm Sunday event in the town since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State militantsAhmad Gharabli/AFP
Palm Sunday
Christian residents of Qaraqosh stand on the roof of the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception, IraqAhmad Gharabli/AFP

In Jerusalem, several hundred Christian worshippers attended a procession at the newly-restored Edicule inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried and ascended to heaven. The faithful in Jerusalem waved palm fronds and branches commemorating the day the Bible says Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowds the week before Christians believe he rose from the dead.

Palm Sunday
Christian Orthodox communities attend the Palm Sunday Easter procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, IsraelGali Tibbon/AFP
Palm Sunday
An Orthodox pilgrim holds a palm branch during the Palm Sunday Easter procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, IsraelGali Tibbon/AFP

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 in an apparent reference to tensions in the Middle East. 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
Pope Francis blesses a child at the end of the Palm Sunday mass, at St Peter's square in Vatican City, ItalyVincenzo Pinto/AFP
Palm Sunday
Pope Francis leaves St Peter's Square at the end of the Palm Sunday Mass in Vatican City, ItalyFranco Origlia/Getty Images
Palm Sunday
Catholic Christian worshippers carry a wooden cross during a procession marking the Palm Sunday in the town of Ashmyany, BelarusVasily Fedosenko/Reuters
Palm Sunday
People celebrate outside Al-Qodees Carlos church during Palm Sunday in al-Qassaa, Damascus, SyriaOmar Sanadiki/Reuters
Palm Sunday
A woman carries a baby inside Al-Saleeb church during Palm Sunday in al-Qassaa, Damascus, SyriaOmar Sanadiki/Reuters
Palm Sunday
A girl stands near candles inside Al-Saleeb church during Palm Sunday in al-Qassaa, Damascus, SyriaOmar Sanadiki/Reuters
Palm Sunday
A shadow of a cross is reflected on a Catholic believer during Palm Sunday celebration in San Pedro Sacatepequez on the outskirts of Guatemala City, GuatemalaLuis Echeverria/Reuters
Palm Sunday
Christian worshippers take part in a Palm Sunday Mass in Chennai, IndiaArun Sankar/AFP
Palm Sunday
Catholic Christian worshippers take part in a Palm Sunday ceremony in Nairobi, KenyaBaz Ratner/Reuters
Palm Sunday
Catholics take part in a procession to celebrate Palm Sunday in Panchimalco, El SalvadorJose Cabezas/Reuters