Orthodox Christians Celebrate Holy Fire on Easter

At the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, Orthodox Christians marked Easter with a 1,200 year old tradition of a new fire marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected at the site where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands in the Old City of Jerusalem. While the source of the holy fire is a closely guarded secret, believers say the flame appears spontaneously from his tomb on the day before Easter to show Jesus has not forgotten his followers.

The ritual dates back at least 1,200 years.

Thousands of Christians waited outside the church for it to open Saturday morning. Custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is shared by a number of denominations that jealously guard their responsibilities under a fragile network of agreements hammered out over the last millennia. In accordance with tradition, the church's doors were unlocked by a member of a Muslim family, who for centuries has been the keeper of the ancient key that is passed on within the family from generation to generation...

In mere seconds, the bursts of light spread throughout the cavernous church as flames jumped from one candle to another. Clouds of smoke wafted through the crammed hall as flashes from cameras and mobile phones documented what is for many, the spiritual event of a lifetime.

Some held light from the "holy fire" to their faces to bask in the glow while others dripped wax on their bodies.Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said tens of thousands of worshippers participated in the ceremony.

More on the Orthodox Holy Fire rite is available at the Huffington Post.


Comments (2)

Holy Fire was the most exhilarating, and dangerous liturgical event that I have ever attended. We were in the balcony of the Armenian Patriarch looking down on the edicule and the heat, the ringing bells, the noise of the thousands of people below, and the fire - fire everywhere - was just spectacular. This was not for the faint of heart. It made my Easter Vigil services seem pretty tame to say the least.

"While the source of the holy fire is a closely guarded secret"

It's not the Holy Hand Grenade, it's the Holy Bic. ;-/

Happy Easter to everybody at EC/The Lead: He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!

JC Fisher

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