The traditional Holy Fire ceremony (also known as the Holy Light ceremony) was held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The ceremony took place in a unique and limited format in view of current restrictions on public gatherings due to coronavirus.
In light of these restrictions, and in order to uphold the freedom of worship in Israel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs carried out a complex operation in coordination with the Israel Police, the Ministry of Interior, the Israel Airports Authority, and the National Security Council, to enable the ceremony to take place. The ceremony was observed by millions of believers across the globe.
Eight clergy from the Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac Orthodox denominations participated in today’s ceremony. At the end of the ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the “Holy Fire” was transferred from the Church, in oil lamps, through to Ben Gurion Airport by a number of foreign ambassadors and diplomats currently serving in Israel.
At the airport, special flights were ready to transport the fire to Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia, Greece, Cyprus, Georgia, Belarus, Moldovia, Romania, and Poland. In addition, special emissaries transported the fire to Christian communities in northern Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz: “The State of Israel does everything within its power to uphold the freedoms of religion and of worship in holy places, and to enable hundreds of thousands of believers across the world celebrate their holiday. The Foreign Ministry, together with foreign embassies, representatives, and many other partners, lead this exceptional operation that brought the holiday to millions of believers around the world, who were able to observe their tradition even during these unprecedented times. We hope that in the coming years, we will once again see thousands of tourists in Jerusalem celebrating the holiday.”
The Holy Fire is one of the most breathtaking and important ceremonies in the Eastern Christian world, and has historical testimonies dating back as early as the 9th century CE. The ceremony is conducted in accordance with the current status quo at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in place for hundreds of years, and attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims every year. During the ceremony, the “Holy Fire” is lit at the grave of Jesus, and from there is transferred to every capital in the Eastern Christian world. There, it serves the Easter Mass on the evening between Saturday and Easter Sunday.
The entire ceremony was broadcast live in Israel, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt.