JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of Christians are celebrating Easter Mass in Jerusalem in an array of processions and prayer sessions.

In the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher, clergymen in flowing white and gold robes celebrated Mass, the air fragrant with incense.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, in Israel on a private visit, joined the masses of Christian faithful in the church. He shook hands with pilgrims and spoke to monks in the Old City.

Just outside the ancient city’s walls, about 350 Protestants sang Gospel music in the Garden Tomb, where Jesus is believed to be buried.

Easter Sunday caps a week of holidays that commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Palm Sunday today and Easter next week.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.