Holy Fire ceremony at the empty Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

Holy Fire ceremony unfolds at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem without pilgrims due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Every year on the eve of Eastern Orthodox Easter, the Church overflows with thousands of worshippers. They wait on their feet for hours to witness the miracle of the Holy Fire, which, according to Orthodox tradition, appears from Christ’s tomb.

Following the Holy Fire ceremony, the flame is taken by plane to other Orthodox communities in countries such as Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania.

Worshipers have been marking Holy Saturday this way for centuries — until this year. Due to the novel coronavirus, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known also as the Church of the Resurrection, has been closed to visitors.

The ceremony, is therefore attended only by eight clergymen belonging to the Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Assyrian, and Coptic denominations.

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