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JERUSALEM, May 4 (Itar-Tass) - The Holy Fire has ignited in Jerusalem. A delegation of Russia's Apostle Andrew the First Called Fund received a piece of the Holy Fire to take it back to Moscow. It will be transported by a special plane to Moscow and from there to churches in Russia and other CIS countries.
The Holy Fire ignited after the prayer delivered by Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem. Israeli policemen make sure there is no fraud and the patriarch has no “earthly” sources of 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 is expected to 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 tenth consecutive year. “A small program launched by the organization 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, Yakunin said.
He met with Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem on Friday, May 3.