Worshippers take part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Thousands of Christian worshipers on Saturday celebrated Easter's Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The Holy Fire is considered a miracle occurring every year on Holy Saturday, the day preceding Orthodox Easter Sunday.
Thousands of worshipers packed into the ancient church, believed to be built on the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, entered the small tomb structure of Jesus at the Holy Sepulchre Church in the Old City of Jerusalem. At exactly 2 p.m. local time, a sun beam is believed to shine through the window in the ceiling of the church and light a lamp placed in the tomb.
Church lights are switched off and the silence of anticipation follows.
The Patriarch then lights a few candles with the holy fire, and passes them on to worshipers inside the church.
Seconds after the Orthodox patriarch reveals the Holy Fire, it is rapidly spread throughout the church as worshipers light each other's candles. The fire is then passed on to the worshipers who are waiting outside.
In past centuries, worshipers were expected to bring the flame back to their villages around Russia and Eastern Europe.
Traditionally, an olive lamp lit by the "Holy Fire" is transferred soon after the ceremony to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus.