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Plane with Holy Fire leaves Israel, heads to Moscow

April 19, 2014, 19:44 UTC+3 JERUSALEM
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JERUSALEM, April 19, /ITAR-TASS/. A Russian plane carrying a secure lamp with the Holy Fire has left Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and headed to Moscow.

The Holy Fire will be brought to Moscow and dozens of other Russian cities from Sevastopol to Yakutsk and Orthodox churches abroad, including in Rome and Tallinn, by a delegation of Russia’s Apostle Andrew the First Called Fund headed by Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin.

The plane is expected to land in Moscow’s Vnukovo-1 Airport at 22:30 local time. From the airport, the lamp with the Holy Fire will be taken to the Cathedral of Christ of the Saviour in time for the overnight service to be led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

The delegation will be greeted by believers from different Russian regions. They will light their lamps and take them to their home dioceses.

The Holy Fire ignited in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem earlier in the day in the presence of thousands of believers. The Russian delegation was one of the first to have received a piece of the Holy Fire.

The Holy Fire has been descending on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on the eve of Orthodox Easter for more than 1,500 years. The first accounts of this miracle, which symbolises the resurrection of Christ, date back to the 4th century A.D.

It is believed that the year in which the Holy Fire does not descend will become the last year in the history of mankind.

The fire miraculously ignites during the prayer delivered by the patriarch of Jerusalem and All Palestine at the Sepulchre. The patriarch then passes the fire over to believers who use it to light 33 candles tied together, one candle for each year of Christ's life. The pilgrims wash their faces and heads with the holy fire, for it does not burn in the first few minutes after the descent. The believers also light lampions and oil lamps in order to take the holy fire, which has been miraculously appearing for 990 years at the Sepulchre on the eve of Orthodox Easter, to their homes.

The Russian delegation will bring the fire in a secure lamp by a special flight in time for the overnight Easter service at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral to be led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

The delegation has been bringing the Holy Fire from Jerusalem to Moscow for the eleventh consecutive year. The Holy Fire was for the first time taken from Jerusalem to Moscow in 1992.

“A small program launched by the organisation in 2003 has become a beautiful Orthodox tradition. Our delegation, which includes generals, admirals, politicians and culture workers, represents the whole of Russia. To us this mission is a great responsibility,” Vladimir Yakunin, the head of the Apostle Andrew the First Called Fund, said.

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