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Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter in Jerusalem & The Holy Fire

The Eastern Orthodox Church is celebrating Easter. At Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre church, believed to be the site of the burial of Jesus Christ, Easter Saturday's Holy Fire service is held there.

Freedom of Religion  -  What a Concept

Nora Blond - Orthodox Easter in Jerusalem & The Holy Fire (2006 Footage) Documentary

On the appointed day at noon, the Greek Orthodox patriarch, followed by the Armenian archbishop, march in grand and solemn procession with their own clergies, while singing hymns. They march three times round the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Once the procession has ended, the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem or another Orthodox Archbishop recites a specific prayer, removes his robes and enters alone into the sepulchre. Before entering the Tomb of Christ, the patriarch is examined by Jewish Israeli authorities to prove that he does not carry technical means to light the fire. 

Easter in Jerusalem 2011

This investigation used to be carried out by Muslim Turkish Ottoman soldiers. The Armenian archbishops remain in the antechamber, where the angel was sitting when he appeared to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection of Jesus. The congregation subsequently chants Kyrie eleison ("Lord, have mercy" in Greek) until the Holy Fire spontaneously descends on 33 white candles tied together by the Patriarch while he is alone inside the tomb chamber of Jesus. The patriarch then reveals himself from the tomb chamber and recites some prayers, before he lights either 33 or 12 candles and distributes them to the congregation. The fire is considered by believers to be the flame of the Resurrection power, as well as the fire of the Burning Bush of Mount Sinai.

Pilgrims claim the Holy Fire does not burn their hair, faces, clothes or anything else during the first 33 minutes of its appearance. One web site offers videos claiming to show worshipers having prolonged contact with the flames without discomfort or damage to skin or hair.

Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem has described the process of the coming down of the fire as follows:

I find my way through the darkness towards the inner chamber in which I fall on my knees. Here I say certain prayers that have been handed down to us through the centuries and, having said them, I wait. Sometimes I may wait a few minutes, but normally the miracle happens immediately after I have said the prayers. From the core of the very stone on which Jesus lay an indefinable light pours forth. It usually has a blue tint, but the color may change and take many different hues. 
It cannot be described in human terms. The light rises out of the stone as mist may rise out of a lake it almost looks as if the stone is covered by a moist cloud, but it is light. This light each year behaves differently. Sometimes it covers just the stone, while other times it gives light to the whole sepulchre, so that people who stand outside the tomb and look into it will see it filled with light. The light does not burn. I have never had my beard burnt in all the 16 years I have been Patriarch in Jerusalem and have received the Holy Fire. The light is of a different consistency than normal fire that burns in an oil lamp.

At a certain point the light rises and forms a column in which the fire is of a different nature, so that I am able to light my candles from it. When I thus have received the flame on my candles, I go out and give the fire first to the Armenian Patriarch and then to the Coptic. Hereafter I give the flame to all people present in the Church..

The Holy Fire 2011

Greek Orthodox Bishops at Easter Mass, Jerusalem.

View looking down from the rotunda inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Church of Holy Sepulchre during the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire
 ceremony in Jerusalem's Old City. 

1 comment:

nijjhar said...

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The Resurrection of Jesus and Lazarus proved that the sons of Most High Christs never die as a Gentile never dies for he does not live to die.

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