Orthodox Christians on Saturday performed their annual ceremony during which “holy fire” is said to miraculously descend on the place where Jesus is believed to have been buried.
The coronavirus restrictions offered a rare opportunity to get an unencumbered look at the event inside the halls of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem. Typically, thousands of local Christians and foreign pilgrims pack the church for the ceremony, making it all but impossible to see what’s happening with the “holy fire.”
What one can usually see is Christians from the various rival Orthodox churches getting into physical altercations as they jockey for position.
But this year, only priests and high-level representatives of the different churches were allowed inside. And they then quickly transferred the supposedly divine flames to waiting cars that then took the burning candles to Ben Gurion Airport. Israel has halted all air traffic to and from the Jewish state, but allowed these special flights so that the “holy fire” might still make its way back to Orthodox Christian countries like Greece, Russia, Bulgaria and Armenia.
An Orthodox clergyman carries “holy fire” through Jerusalem’s Old City en route to Ben Gurion Airport.
Israeli police officers escort the Holy Fire on its journey from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Not sure it’s a good idea to have an open flame in a closed vehicle. But anything for a “miracle,” right?
Local Jerusalem Christians share the divine flame with friends and family.