The Holy Fire appeared in the small chapel built over the burial place of Christ, after the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem entered there to patiently pray and wait. The church was filled to overflowing with believers, who came to the Holy Land to ask the Lord for the Holy Fire, which descends only upon the prayers of the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The Holy Fire has descended in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, as seen on the live stream on the Facebook page of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. The Holy Light descended at about 2:35 PM (7:35 AM Eastern Standard time).
The Holy Fire is a miracle that occurs every year in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday, the day preceding Pascha (Orthodox Easter). It is considered by many to be the longest-attested annual miracle in the Christian world.
The Holy Fire appeared in the edicule (the small chapel built over the burial place of Christ) after the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, entered there to patiently pray and wait. The edicule was newly-restored for the first time in centuries just in time for the Holy Fire service and Pascha in 2017, and was consecrated on March 22, 2017 after nine months of work.
After the fire’s descent the Patriarch passed the holy gift to the faithful who lit from it their bundles of thirty-three candles, per the age of Christ at the time of His Crucifixion and Resurrection.
The descent of the fire was preceded by a complex ceremony: The doors of the sepulchre were sealed by with a large wax seal as a sign that its inspection had finished, and in it was found nothing that would allow the Patriarch of Jerusalem to light the fire by any ordinary means.
By this time the church was, as always, filled to overflowing with believers—both local Arab Orthodox and pilgrims from various countries. Large groups of believers traditionally arrive to the Holy Land during these days from countries of the former Soviet Union. All came to supplicate the Lord and His Most Pure Mother to grant them the Holy Fire, which descends only upon the prayers of the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Shortly before the arrival of Patriarch Theophilos, the seal was removed from the door of the edicule, and a large lampada and thirty-three candles were carried into the tomb. Then the patriarch entered and began to wait. Those present continually prayed for the granting of the Fire until the time of its appearing.
At the ceremony in the church was present, in particular, the delegation of the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation, which, closer to midnight, will deliver the fire to the patriarchal Paschal service in the Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow. The fire will also be sent to dozens of Russian regions and countries both near and far. Delegations from other Local Orthodox Churches, including the Romanian, Serbian, Greek, Bulgarian, etc. will also take part in the ceremony and receive the Holy Fire to take it back to their own Churches.