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Orthodox Easter – the Holy Fire emerges from the Holy Sepulchre

Orthodox Easter – the Holy Fire emerges from the Holy Sepulchre

JERUSALEM – On Saturday 30 April 2016, “Sabt el Nour” – Light Saturday – the traditional ritual of the Holy Fire took place in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, a major event of the Orthodox Holy Week.

It is one of the most important moments of the Holy Week. Each year, on Holy Saturday, according to a ritual dating back to the IVth century, faithful  gather in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre to attend Holy Fire ceremony.

Greek Patriarch Theophilos III walks into the Edicule while the crowds sing Kyrie Eleison. He comes out carrying two bundles of 33 candlesticks each, lit miraculously according to tradition. The Holy Fire is then passed on from faithful to faithful, until reaching outside the Basilica. It is then carried forward to Bethlehem, and flies towards other Orthodox communities all over the world for the Easter vigil. The arrival of the Holy Fire in the different communities is always an occasion for momentous joyful demonstrations.

Easter is the most important feastday of the liturgical year. It is the heart of the Christian faith, as underlines Samer, Orthodox Christian from Bethlehem : “As Christians of the Holy Land, we should take time to reflect on the significance of Easter. The Resurrection of Christ from among the dead is the cornerstone of our faith. Resurrection is the act whereby Christ vanquished death, evil and suffering … Our faith is for us a source of power in difficult moments. For certain people, Resurrection may represent the dawn of a new day after a dark night. For others, it represents stability and time of peace after a period of confusion. We need to wake up, to come out of this numbness which fills our life sometimes, and not only during one day. Reusrrection is lived daily, not only on Easterday.”

Thousands of pilgrims – Greeks, Russians, Ethiopians, Copts, Armenians – filled the Holy City with songs and prayers for the Holy Fire Saturday. Security guards were posted by Israeli authorities to watch over and maintain security for all.

Thomas Charrière
Photos : Sabt el Nour 2016 – Jerusalem ©LPJ

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