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Dead bodies of victims lie inside St. Sebastian's Church damaged in blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019.  More than two hundred people were killed and hundreds more injured in eight blasts that rocked churches and hotels in and just outside Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Chamila Karunarathne) — Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

In pictures: Gloom cast over Easter celebrations after explosions rip through Sri Lanka

“May the One who gives us his peace end the roar of arms," says Pope Francis whilst condemning "such cruel violence".
Updated Apr 21, 2019 11:59pm

Christians from across the world celebrated Easter on Sunday, commemorating the day followers believe Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

A cloud of gloom, however, was cast on the religious festival as a series of near simultaneous explosions tore through several churches holding Easter services as well as high-end hotels in Sri Lanka. More than 200 were killed and over 400 injured.

In Pakistan, Christians observed the revered occasion amid tight security. Special services were hosted across all the major cities where the Christian community prayed for salvation, and for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.

Special prayers were also held for the victims of the Sri Lankan bombings.

In Vatican City, Pope Francis in his Easter Sunday address condemned as “such cruel violence” the bombings that were timed to coincide with the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar.

“I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, hit while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” the pope said.

Speaking from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica, he appealed for peace in conflict areas.

“Before the many sufferings of our time, may the Lord of life not find us cold and indifferent,” he said, speaking in Italian after celebrating a Mass in the square.

“May he make us builders of bridges, not walls. May the One who gives us his peace end the roar of arms, both in areas of conflict and in our cities, and inspire the leaders of nations to work for an end to the arms race and the troubling spread of weaponry, especially in the economically more advanced countries,” he said.

In Paris, Parisians prayed for the swift restoration of the city's centuries-old Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral cathedral after its devastating fire.

With no cathedral to go to, hundreds gathered for Easter Sunday mass at the smaller Saint-Eustache catholic church on the city's right bank.

The archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, began the service by drawing a parallel between the planned reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

“We will rise up again and our cathedral will rise up again,” he told the congregation.


SRI LANKA
A view of St Sebastian's Church damaged in a blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21. — AP
A view of St Sebastian's Church damaged in a blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21. — AP

Sri Lankans carry a dead body at St. Sebastian's Church damaged in a blast in Negombo. — AP
Sri Lankans carry a dead body at St. Sebastian's Church damaged in a blast in Negombo. — AP

Blood stains are seen on the wall and on a Jesus Christ statue at the St Sebastian's Church after a blast in Negombo. — AP
Blood stains are seen on the wall and on a Jesus Christ statue at the St Sebastian's Church after a blast in Negombo. — AP

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe (2nd R) arrives to visit the site of a bomb attack at St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo. — AFP
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe (2nd R) arrives to visit the site of a bomb attack at St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo. — AFP

Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St Anthony Shrine after a blast in Colombo. — AP
Sri Lankan Army soldiers secure the area around St Anthony Shrine after a blast in Colombo. — AP

Sri Lankan firefighters stand in the area around St Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo. — AP
Sri Lankan firefighters stand in the area around St Anthony's Shrine after a blast in Colombo. — AP

Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo. — AP
Relatives of a blast victim grieve outside a morgue in Colombo. — AP


PAKISTAN
Christians attend Easter mass at Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. — AP
Christians attend Easter mass at Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. — AP

A soldier stands guard on the roof of a Methodist Church during the Easter service in Quetta. — AFP
A soldier stands guard on the roof of a Methodist Church during the Easter service in Quetta. — AFP

Christians attend early morning Easter mass at St Patrick's Church in Karachi. — AP
Christians attend early morning Easter mass at St Patrick's Church in Karachi. — AP

Christians carry candles during an early morning Easter mass at St Patrick's Church in Karachi. — AP
Christians carry candles during an early morning Easter mass at St Patrick's Church in Karachi. — AP

A nun attends the Easter Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. — Reuters
A nun attends the Easter Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. — Reuters

A woman prays during Easter mass at Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. — AP
A woman prays during Easter mass at Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. — AP


ROME
Pope Francis delivering the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing to the city and to the world from the balcony of St Peter's basilica after the Easter Sunday Mass in the Vatican. — AFP
Pope Francis delivering the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing to the city and to the world from the balcony of St Peter's basilica after the Easter Sunday Mass in the Vatican. — AFP

Pope Francis smiling whilst delivering the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the balcony of St Peter's basilica. — AFP
Pope Francis smiling whilst delivering the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the balcony of St Peter's basilica. — AFP

Pope Francis (C-R) walks across St Peter's square ornated with flower arrangements during the Easter Sunday mass in the Vatican. — AFP
Pope Francis (C-R) walks across St Peter's square ornated with flower arrangements during the Easter Sunday mass in the Vatican. — AFP

Pope Francis waves to worshipers from the popemobila car as he leaves at the end of the Easter Sunday mass. — AFP
Pope Francis waves to worshipers from the popemobila car as he leaves at the end of the Easter Sunday mass. — AFP


FRANCE
A general view before Easter Sunday Mass at Saint-Eustache, days after a massive fire devastated large parts of the structure of the gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Paris. — Reuters
A general view before Easter Sunday Mass at Saint-Eustache, days after a massive fire devastated large parts of the structure of the gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Paris. — Reuters

Workers, top, fix a net to cover one of the iconic stained glass windows of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. — AP
Workers, top, fix a net to cover one of the iconic stained glass windows of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. — AP

Priests give communion to faithfuls during a Sunday's Mass at the grandiose Saint-Eustache church on the Right Bank of the Seine river in Paris. — AP
Priests give communion to faithfuls during a Sunday's Mass at the grandiose Saint-Eustache church on the Right Bank of the Seine river in Paris. — AP

Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit, center, leads a Sunday's Mass at the grandiose Saint-Eustache church in Paris. — AP
Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit, center, leads a Sunday's Mass at the grandiose Saint-Eustache church in Paris. — AP

People pictured attending Easter Sunday Mass at Saint-Eustache. —Reuters
People pictured attending Easter Sunday Mass at Saint-Eustache. —Reuters


Header image: A view of the devastation caused by the blast inside St Sebastian's Church in Negombo. — AP