11 Apr 2018

The inspiring rite of the Holy Fire in the Holy Sepulcher

Orthodox Christian communities in Jerusalem witnessed an ancient ceremony on their Holy Saturday, thousands gathering for the event.

The Orthodox Christians celebration of Easter in Jerusalem was long awaited. According to the Julian Calendar, kept by most Eastern Churches, the Resurrection of Christ was celebrated this year on April 8th. In days leading up to the feast, the faithful of various origins, keeping various rites, commemorated the Passion of Jesus, culminating on Holy Saturday inside the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher with the ceremony of the Holy Fire.

In a centuries-old tradition, it is believed that an angel;visits the Aedicule, housing the tomb of Jesus, and ignites a lamp alternately flaming for minutes before the ceremony.

Each year, differing rites are celebrated in turn by Coptic, Syrian and Armenian clerics in the presence of thousands. There are processions of local Christians accompanied by choirs, drumming and the sounds of other instruments.

Then the Greek Orthodow Patrirach, Theophilus III makes his solmen entrty, and having processed around the aedicule three times, he enters the tomb in subdued lighting, for the great event.

The silence is broken by a joyful cry as the surrounding crowd acclaims the kindled fire.

Within seconds, the fire spreads from candle to candle throughout the church and, even throughout the World, for the Easter celebrations.

"Christòs anèsti - alithòs anèsti" / Christ is risen! – he is risen indeed!

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