Holy Fire Ceremony, Church of Holy Sepulchre 370.
(photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
Tens of thousands of pilgrims visited the Old City of Jerusalem Saturday to observe the "Holy Fire" ceremony marking the day preceding Orthodox Easter, Israel Radio reported.
The annual occurrence held at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher stands as the holiest event for the Orthodox Christian sects.
Attendees participated in the passing of a flame borne by Greek Orthodox and Armenian clergymen exiting the place of Jesus’s tomb within the church.
Burning candles will also be flown out to Orthodox communities throughout the world.
The faithful believe that it is through divine intervention that the first flame comes to life – much like Jesus did at the same spot a day after his crucifixion.
Hundreds of security authorities were deployed Saturday morning in the Old City where vehicular traffic was barred to allow the flow of processions leading to the church.
Entrance to the Western Wall for Jewish visitors was permitted without restriction during the day, though Jaffa Gate was closed and entrance to the site was recommened through Damascus Gate. Johan Mandel contributed to this report.