Holy Flame greeted by thousands
Apr 23, 2011 16:43 Moscow Time
In an age-old pattern on Easter Saturday, the Holy Flame has descended onto the interment site of Jesus Christ inside the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Patriarch Theophilus of Jerusalem and helpers distributed particles of the Flame to thousands of people in the congregation around.
A delegation from Russia is flying fire from the Flame to Moscow, for use at an Easter ceremony in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
A delegation of the Foundation ofe First-Called is due to put a torch to the Flame and will thus bring it to Moscow by a charter flight. The flight, traditionally met by hundreds of believers, is due to arrive in the Russian capital at 10:30 p.m. St. Andrew th
The Holy Fire will arrive in Moscow from Jerusalem on Saturday. The sacred flame which is believed to be a miracle is lit in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Holy Saturday every year over the past two thousand years. From Vnukovo Airport where it will be traditionally greeted by hundreds of believers, the Holy Fire will go to the Cathedral of Christ Our Savior which holds the grand Easter liturgy throughout the night of Holy Saturday. The Voice of Russia’s Milena Faustova reports.
No one can explain the coming down of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem on Easter Eve. Every year thousands of pilgrims head for the Holy Land to see the miracle with their own eyes. As all Christian confessions celebrate Easter on the same day this year, swarms of believers have been gathering by the Church of Holy Sepulcher since Holy Friday.
The “coming down” of the Holy Fire ceremony starts in the small hours of Holy Saturday morning and may take several hours. All candles are put out in the church and at midday the belfry peals the start of the procession. Believers are praying both inside the church, which holds 10,000 people, and outside. The coming of the sacred flame is met with greetings of joy as people congratulate one another on the miracle. For it is believed that the year the Holy Fire will not light the candle on the Sepulcher will herald the end of the world.
Thanks to the St.Andrew the First Called Foundation, the Holy Fire is brought to Russia from Israel every year since 2003. According to Mikhail Yakovlev, Vice-President of the Foundation, the bringing of the sacred flame is part of a program of the St.Andrew the First Called Foundation entitled “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”.
"The program was initiated by the Foundation after its organizers saw an inscription over the Holy Gate in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. What they managed to make out in the darkness was “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”, and immediately they resolved to start an international program. It was particularly relevant amid the volatile situation in the Holy Land after the start of the intifada."
The Holy Fire was first delivered to Russia by Father Daniil more than 900 years ago. Father Daniil was the first Russian pilgrim who reached the Holy Land on foot and described his journey in detail later. Mikhail Yakovlev comments.
"By bringing back the Holy Fire tradition, we’re following in the footsteps of Russia’s first pilgrims. Pilgrims from the then young state of Kievan Rus’ went to the Holy Land to learn more about Orthodox traditions."
After the sacred flame is lit, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem “distributes” it among representatives of local Orthodox churches and the Russian St.Andrew the First Called Foundation. The Holy Fire is then delivered to Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ Our Savior and to Orthodox dioceses in Russia and abroad. Mikhail Yakovelv says that the Foundation shares the sacred flame with Catholics too.
"Orthodox Easter coincides with Catholic Easter for the second year running, he says. Catholics come to Orthodox churches to marvel at the Holy Fire. Before the 16th century split into the Grigorian and Julian calendars, Catholics worshipped the scared flame too and observe the fire lighting ritual to this day."
- Being live evidence of staunch Christian belief and symbolizing the redemption of sins, the Holy Fire is shared by an ever greater number of believers in Russia and abroad, and the number of people eager to carry a sparkle of it home from Jerusalem is growing every year, Mikhail Yakovlev said.