Many waved palm fronds, olive branches and pussy willows as John Paul was driven to the canopied altar atop the steps of St. Peter's Basilica.
The Mass, attended by a crowd that swelled to at least 50,000 people, marked the start of a week of commemorations leading up to Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
An 18-month-old girl was in critical condition after Israeli soldiers confronting stone-throwing Palestinian youths shot her in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet as her family walked home through the village of Al-Khader, Palestinian witnesses and medical sources said. Al-Khader is near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
Christian pilgrims lined the streets of Jerusalem to celebrate Palm Sunday, the first day of the Holy Week before Easter.
Hundreds of believers waved palm leaves and sang as they made their way from the Mount of Olives along the Via Dolorosa to the Holy Sepulchre, which is revered as the site of Jesus crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah said far fewer people were in this year's procession commemorating Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem because of Mideast violence. Sabbah is the top Roman Catholic prelate in Jerusalem.
Palm Sunday marks Jesus' entry into Jerusalem before his arrest and crucifixion, when followers strewed palm branches in his path. Red-robed cardinals bearing palm branches led a procession into the enormous square.
John Paul noted that Palm Sunday is also the church's World Youth Day in years when the event is not held outside of Rome. He welcomed a delegation from Toronto, Canada, which will host the event in July 2002.
|Pope John Paul II meets a young Canadian Indian wearing a traditional dress at the end of the Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's Square.|
As John Paul looked down from the altar, Italian youths handed over the 13-foot World Youth Day wooden cross to the Canadians.
Five Inuits from Nunavut chanted and played the drums to greet the pope.
The pontiff, who turns 81 next month, held up well during the nearly three-hour Mass, leaning on his silver staff. His hands trembled, a symptom of Parkinson's disease.
Later in the week, the pope was to preside over a Holy Thursday service, a Good Friday evening procession in Rome's Colosseum, a vigil service on Saturday night and an Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square next Sunday.
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