Pope Benedict is to preside over the first Good Friday ceremonies of his pontificate today.
The pope will lead the celebration of the Lord's Passion in Saint Peter's Basilica and in the evening he will hold the traditional Way of the Cross procession at the Coliseum.
On Good Friday, Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus and on Easter Sunday they celebrate what they believe was his resurrection.
In Jerusalem, thousands of Christians today walked along the cobblestone streets of the Old City, retracing the path that Jesus is believed to have taken.
President Bush is at Camp David, Maryland for the religious holiday weekend. He issued a statement calling the Easter season a time for renewal, thanks and hope.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, at least seven people today were nailed to wooden crosses in a re-enactment of the crucifixion.
The annual spectacle is opposed by religious leaders, but draws huge crowds to the the village of Cutud, north of Manila.
A British national was present at the spectacle, saying he had planned to participate, but he refused when it was time to be nailed to the cross.
In observance of Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict washed the feet of 12 men at a Mass in Rome's Saint John Lateran Basilica, commemorating the action of Jesus on the evening before his crucifixion.
He also gave a tribute to an Italian priest, Andrea Santoro, who was shot and killed February 5th in Turkey. A youth protesting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad killed the cleric.
This year marks the first Easter season for Pope Benedict. His predecessor, Pope John Paul, was mostly confined to his apartments by his final illness a year ago and died the week after Easter.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.