NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Millions of Christians around the world are celebrating Easter – the holiest day of the year.

CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reports many in New York headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown for one of eight Easter Sunday masses.

At Sunday’s mass, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reports Timothy Cardinal Dolan said Easter is about more than the resurrection of Jesus Christ, its about the resurrection of the human spirit as we go through troubled times.

“We look at Belgium, we look at all the threats and the violence and the persecution and the reasons for desperation in the world today, it sometimes seems that the world is dead,” Dolan said.

After the mass, Dolan told reporters the church offers the people a positive message.

“Look, we got a pretty good product here,” Dolan said.

WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reports people wore their most creative Easter bonnets on their heads.

“It’s not only beautiful, but it’s in the spirit of Easter and rebirth and spring, and it’s an exciting time,” one woman told Waldron.

In Rome, thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sunday morning to celebrate and to pray together. Pope Francis’ homily urged the faithful to open their hearts, and be joyful.

“Let us not stay imprisoned within ourselves, but let us break open our sealed tombs to the Lord so that he may enter and grant us life,” the pope said.

On the evening of Holy Saturday came the Easter vigil in Rome as Francis entered a silent St. Peter’s Basilica in darkness representing Jesus Christ’s death.

The lighting of the Paschal candle represented the light of Jesus’ life. The pope carried the light into the church, ending the time of solemn prayer and mourning, the three days after death, marking Jesus’ resurrection.

During his Easter Sunday message, the pope denounced “blind” terrorism,” recalling victims of attacks in Europe, Africa and elsewhere, as well as expressing dismay that people fleeing war or poverty are being denied welcome as European countries squabble over the refugee crisis.

For years, Islamist extremists in social media have listed the Vatican and Rome as potential targets due to hosting the headquarters of the Roman Catholic church and several basilicas. Despite the threats, Francis has kept to his habit of trying to be in close physical contact with ordinary people.

Francis said, for the faithful, Jesus who rose after death by crucifixion “triumphed over evil and sin.” He expressed hope that “will draw us closer to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence.”

At the end of Mass, he chatted briefly with the former king and queen of Belgium, Albert II and Paola, who attended the ceremony.

In his speech, Francis cited recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Iraq.

He called the message of Easter “a message of life for all humanity.”

Easter “invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees — including many children  — fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice,” he said.

As he has done repeatedly, Francis lamented that “all too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance.”

Some European countries have erected barbed-wire fences and other barriers to keep out those who continue to arrive on Greek and Italian shores after risky sea voyages on smugglers’ boats. Another strategy has been for some European countries to express a preference for accepting Christian refugees over Muslim ones — which would effectively rule out the vast majority of Syrian refugees.

Most recently, a host of countries along Europe’s main migrant route north of Greece to central Europe have simply closed their borders to refugees, stranding thousands of refugee families at different border points.

Francis also decried the destruction and “contempt for humanitarian law” in Syria, millions of whose people have fled to Europe or to refugee camps closer to their homeland.

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