Saturday evening marked the end of the Orthodox fasting period, as Christian worshippers in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem gathered to worship.
2023 Orthodox Easter in Jerusalem: This evening marks the greatest event of the year for Orthodox Christians – who have kept the original Christian traditions since the death of Christ, and reside all over the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Serbia, Russia, Ukraine and in the United States – as the Holy Fire ascends, and is spread to churches all over the Orthodox church. Early the next morning, the risen Christ is celebrated.
This tradition has been upheld for over a thousand years, as a flame appears from within Jesus’ tomb.
This flame is then used to light the candles, both in the Holy Sepulcher as well as spread to the world, as a symbol of the risen Christ, the light of the world.
On Saturday evening, this happened as it has for so many years. The darkened church was slowly ignited by each believer’s candle, lighting up and illuminating the holy place of the church at Golgatha.
As the bells rang, the Christians participating “Christ is risen,” others immediately answering, as is the Orthodox tradition, “He is risen indeed!”
The Holy Sepulcher is a conglomerate of churches built together on the site that tradition holds that Jesus was crucified.
In its crypt, one finds the burial site and the site of the resurrection. It was the mother of Constantine the Great, St. Helene who first began the building of a church on this site, shortly after the death of the Christ.
2023 Orthodox Easter in Jerusalem: The Holy Fire has descended in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, as seen on the Ukrainian channel Svidok. The Holy Light descended at about 2:55 PM, writes OrthoChristian.
It appeared in the edicule (the small chapel built over the burial place of Christ) after the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, entered there at 2:50 PM (7:50 AM) to patiently pray and wait.
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After the Fire’s descent, the Patriarch passed the holy gift to the faithful who lit from it their bundles of 33 candles, per the age of Christ at the time of His Crucifixion and Resurrection.
The descent of the Light was preceded by a complex ceremony: The doors of the Sepulchre were sealed 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.
2023 Orthodox Easter in Jerusalem: Shortly before the arrival of Patriarch Theophilos, the seal was removed from the door of the edicule, and a large lampada and 33 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.
This year, like last year, the Israeli police tried to restrict attendance at the Holy Fire service, though the Jerusalem Patriarchate rejected the restrictions and opened the Church to thousands of pilgrims.
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