A few churches led processions with palm leaves followed by special mass. Oswald Cardinal Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, called upon Catholics to alleviate suffering and injustice.
Holy Week begins this morning with the observance of Palm Sunday, when Christians carry palm branches to recall the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem before his crucifixion.
Palm Sunday marks the arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, where his disciples gave him a warm welcome by waving palm leaves, a gesture to signify the victory of good over evil. Israeli police say an estimated 15,000 people took part in the procession.
Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem.
The pope said that it was important to resist the temptations of triumphalism and remain humble.
"Festive acclamations and brutal torture: the silence of Jesus throughout his Passion is profoundly impressive", Francis said in his homily. "This twofold mystery accompanies our entrance into Holy Week each year", the Pope said.
Francis added that "one subtle form of triumphalism is spiritual worldliness, which represents the greatest danger, the most treacherous temptation threatening the church".
Several solemn ceremonies culminate in joyous celebrations on Easter Sunday as Christians celebrate their belief that Jesus rose from the dead. The Vatican has announced that the next World Youth Day will be held in Portugal in 2021.
He also asked the crowd to pray for peace, particularly in the Holy Land and all of the Middle East.
Earlier this month the 82-year-old pope attempted to bring peace to Africa, kneeling and allegedly kissing the feet of the leaders of conflict-torn South Sudan - President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar.