April 19 - Greek Orthodox Patriarch leads Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Thousands gather as the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem arrives at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the holy fire ceremony. The Holy Fire is considered a miracle occurring every year on Holy Saturday, the day preceding Orthodox Easter Sunday. At exactly 2pm local time, a sun beam is believed to shine through the window in the ceiling of the church and light a lamp placed in the tomb. The fire is rapidly spread throughout the church as worshippers light each other's candles. In past centuries, worshippers were expected to bring the flame back to their villages around Russia and Eastern Europe. Traditionally, an olive lamp lit by the "Holy Fire" is transferred soon after the ceremony to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus.