VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI appealed for peace in Africa and the Middle East during his Easter blessing on Sunday as Christians across the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Tens of thousands of pilgrims filled St Peters Square for the popes traditional 'urbi et orbi (to the city and the world) message, amid a sombre holiday for Italians mourning nearly 300 people killed in an earthquake. In other parts of the world, pilgrims flocked to the spot where Jesus is believed to have resurrected in Jerusalem, while Christians celebrated Easter in war-torn countries such as Iraq. The pope led a procession of cardinals and bishops across St Peters square decked out in springtime flowers and ascended red-carpeted steps to take his place before St Peters Basilica as Swiss Guards stood at attention. The mass took place under an overcast sky on this Easter, which celebrates the Resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion on Good Friday. From the steps of the basilica, Benedict delivered a message to the survivors of the earthquake that hit the Abruzzo region last week as he addressed Easter greetings to Catholics around the world in 63 languages. Happy Easter to you, men and women of Italy, in particular those who suffer because of the earthquake. May the risen Christ ... inspire in all the necessary wisdom and courage to proceed united in the building of a future open to hope, he said in Italian. The pontiff also appealed for peace in Africa and said reconciliation among rival factions in the ME was 'difficult, but indispensable. Benedict plans to travel to Israel and Jordan next month. Reconciliation ... is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed, persevering and sincere efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said. Africa suffers disproportionately from the cruel and unending conflicts, often forgotten, that are causing so much bloodshed and destruction in several of her nations, the pope added. In Africa, a growing number of her sons and daughters who fall prey to hunger, poverty and disease, said Benedict, three weeks after his maiden trip to the continent. Christian pilgrims from across the globe filled every nook of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to celebrate Easter on the spot many believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected.