Tens of thousands of faithful are braving heavy security checks for a place in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican as Pope Francis celebrates Easter Sunday Mass.

Many more tourists, pilgrims and Romans are flocking to the cobblestone square, decorated with colorful spring flowers, to hear Francis deliver the "Urbi et Orbi" — his Easter message "to the city and to the world" — from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

Potted hyacinths, tulips and daffodils, as well as bouquets of pink roses, were arranged in neat rows on the steps leading to the imposing church.

Security, already deployed in Holy Week ceremonies, included armed police positioned on rooftops and metal detectors.