JERUSALEM, April 7. /TASS/. Worshippers from many countries have flocked to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Saturday as they anticipate a miraculous event of the Holy Fire’s descent, TASS correspondent reports from the scene.
On the eve of Orthodox Easter, the Holy Fire ignites on the tomb of Jesus Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, also called the Church of Resurrection, during the prayer delivered by the patriarch of Jerusalem and All Palestine. The church that can seat as many as 10,000 worshippers becomes crowded. The expectation can last between five minutes to a few hours. 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, and light lampions and oil lamps in order to take the holy fire to their homes.
Hundreds of believers have arrived from Russia and CIS countries, including a delegation of the Apostle Andrew the First Called Foundation, which will bring the holy fire to Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral aboard a special plane late on Saturday for the Easter night service.
The first records of the Holy Fire, which symbolizes the light that illuminated Christ’s tomb after the resurrection, dates back to the fourth century. The fire has been descending each Holy Saturday, on the eve of the Orthodox Easter, for many centuries. In spite of numerous attempts, no one has been able to work out the origin of the fire, since in the very first minutes after it descends, the fire is warm and does not burn. It is believed that the Holy Fire will not descend on the year of the Doomsday.