Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week leading up to Easter, and pays tribute to today's martyrs while thousands wave palm and olive branches in St. Peter's Square. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Pope Francis led the world's Roman Catholics in Palm Sunday celebrations by paying tribute to those killed for their faith on Sunday (March 29), a reference to the victims of Islamic State militants. Francis, who earlier this month began the third year of his papacy, presided at a colourful procession in St. Peter's Square commemorating the day the Bible says people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus days before he was crucified. Thousands of people, including the 78-year-old Argentine Pope and prelates dressed in red vestments, carried palm fronds and branches in St. Peter's Square on the day that marks the start of Holy Week, which ends on Easter Sunday. In his homily during the Mass that followed, Francis, who last month denounced the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State militants in Libya, paid tribute to those he said were being killed for their faith today. The coming week is one of the busiest in the liturgical calendar for the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. On Holy Thursday, he presides at two services, including one at a Rome prison where he will wash and kiss the feet of male and female inmates to commemorate Christ's gesture of humility towards his apostles on the night before he died. Francis is the first Pope to hold it outside a church and to include women and Muslims, which has upset conservative Catholics. He presides at two Good Friday services, including a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around the Colosseum. After celebrating Easter Eve and Easter Day Masses he delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message.