by James Meletiou, ©2017

(Apr. 17, 2017) — Jews and Christians may disagree on many things, but Jesus’s resurrection happened just as the Jews were celebrating their escape from Egypt – known as Passover. So it is that both Jews and Christians celebrate Passover at the same time most years. (Greeks and most other languages do not use the tern “Easter,” only “Passover”).

So, what does all this have to do with a “Holy Fire?”

Each year on the day of Passover, a leader of the Orthodox Churches and an Armenian Church(1) leader go into the tomb where Jesus’s body was laid after it was taken down from the cross. This leader, known as the Patriarch, carries with him some candles. When he kneels down and prays, a Holy Fire appears and he lights his candles from that Holy Fire. Then he takes the candles out to the waiting Christians and they light their candles with that Holy Fire. Thus the fire is passed back through the ranks of Christians, one to another.

Very Important:

Before entering the Tomb of Christ, the patriarch is examined by Jewish Israeli authorities to prove that he does not carry technical means to light the fire. In the days when the Muslim Turkish Ottomans ruled over Jerusalem, they also examined the Patriarch similarly. Also, standing by, there is a plane ready to take the fire to Greece where crowds of people are waiting with their candles.

In the Patriarch’s own words:

I find my way through the darkness towards the inner chamber where I fall on my knees and say certain prayers that have been handed down to us through the centuries. Having said them, I wait. Sometimes I may wait a few minutes, but normally the miracle happens immediately after I have said the prayers.

From the core of the very stone on which Jesus was laid after he was taken down from the cross, a light that cannot be described shines out. It usually has a blue tint, but the color may change and take many different hues. It cannot be described in human terms. The light rises out of the stone as mist rises out of a lake. It almost looks as if the stone is covered by a moist cloud, but it is light.

Each year, this light behaves differently. Sometimes it covers just the stone, while other times it gives light to the whole sepulcher such that people who stand outside the tomb and look into it can see the tomb filled with light. The light does not burn. I have never had my beard burnt in all the sixteen years I have been Patriarch in Jerusalem and have received the Holy Fire. The light is of a different consistency than normal fire that burns in an oil lamp.

At a certain point the light rises and forms a column in which the fire is of a different nature, so that I am able to light my candles from it. When I thus have received the flame on my candles, I go out and give the fire first to the Armenian Patriarch and then to the Coptic(2).

Hereafter I give the flame to all people present in the Church.


1) These churches are predominant mostly in Greece, Russia, and several countries located between Greece and Russia.

2) The Christian Church in Egypt is known as the Coptic Church

Editor’s Note:  For those wishing more information on the Holy Fire, please see the following:




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