The Holy Fire has descended in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, as shown on the Russian TV channel NTV.
The Holy Fire appeared in the edicule (the small chapel built over the burial place of Christ) just a few minutes after the Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, entered there to patiently pray and wait. This is the first time the Holy Fire has descended upon the newly-restored edicule, which was consecrated on March 22 after nine months of work.
What’s different this year from other years is that this year there shouldn’t be any doubts left because last year in October 2016, Jesus’s tomb has been uncovered for the first time in centuries during the restoration process.
At exactly 2 p.m. every year, a sunbeam is believed to shine through the window in the ceiling of the church and light a lamp placed in the tomb.
After the fire’s descent the Patriarch passed the holy gift to the faithful who lit from it their bundles of thirty-three candles, per the age of Christ at the time of His Crucifixion and Resurrection.
The descent of the fire was preceded by a complex ceremony: the doors of the sepulchre were sealed by with a large wax seal as a sign that its inspection had finished, and in it was found nothing that would allow the Patriarch of Jerusalem to light the fire by any ordinary means.
By this time the church was, as always, filled to overflowing with believers—both local Arab Orthodox and pilgrims from various countries. Large groups of believers traditionally arrive to the Holy Land during these days from countries of the former Soviet Union. All came to supplicate the Lord and His Most Pure Mother to grant them the Holy Fire, which descends only upon the prayers of the Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem.
Shortly before the arrival of Patriarch Theophilos the seal was removed from the door of the edicule, and a large lampada and thirty-three candles were carried into the tomb. Then the patriarch entered and began to wait. Those present continually prayed for the granting of the Fire until the time of its appearing.
At the ceremony in the church was present, in particular, the delegation of the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation, which, closer to midnight, will deliver the fire to the patriarchal Paschal service in the Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow. The fire will also be sent to dozens of Russian regions and countries both near and far, including, for the first time as part of the foundation’s program, America and England.
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