Every year, at 1 p.m. Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and the Rum Greek Orthodox clergy and lay people come to the patriarchal church of St. Constantine and Elena and then step down through the stairs to the Arabic-speaking community of Mar Yakub leading to the square and the gate of the Holy Sepulcher. The crowds are usually trying to get to the site, but as seen on the pictures, the streets were pretty closed and under control. It should be noted that the Church of the Resurrection or Anastasis was crowdy, not that much. Many seemed to be absent and even if there were many pilgrims, the other sister Churches of the Orthodoxy were not that represented, nor the Latins (Roman Catholics). On the other hand, the Armenians and the Syrian Orthodox were numerous.
How things happens? There is not specific account on the Holy Fire, except that many people deny its reality on a regular basis. It is the only plac in the world, thus at the very place where the Lord was crucified, died on the Cross, was buried and rose from the dead in accordance with the Christian tradition as accounted in the Gospel. It is evident that only faith can ascertain the faithful. Often people think they are "Christians" by birth. No. No human being is a Christian by birth. Of course, there have been along the ages and in all places different kinds of Christian ways of living, cultural societies. But each human being has to go through baptism, personally and not because of any background. This is the most difficult aspect of the matter, in particular these years when the most ancient Christendom is endangered. It is difficult to say to the Christians of the East as also to the Armenians, Assyrians, the Greek Orthodox that they are not "born Christians". Still, they are not because the stamp/sphragis, mark of Christ is a gift to any human soul and requires the confirmation of each individual and group in their generation. Many countries were baptized and lost their faith or are getting secularized. It happens that memory is acting and does revive a fire that was concealed or apparently hidden as it happened in many former communist countries, Russia and the Eastern Europe.
FIRE. The fire is definitely the first step of a real civilization - fire is present in most ancient religions, especially in the Fertile Crescent and toward the East, among the Zoroastrians for instance. The burning Bush in the Sinai that burnt without flames and the flames of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Each year, the Holy Fire or Бланодатный Огонь in Russian comes out of the local seals and express the local joy of the faithful. It is received by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and also given by the Armenian Patriarch and it is good to have the pictures of this event as they are together.
Some reporters underscored that the Holy Fire has been transmitted today to both the Orthodox and Catholic communities and shared in a spirit of love and gladness in different villages of "Palestine". The Holy Fire is handed to be shared by all the Nations of the world. It is distributed to all Orthodox countries as lamps are lit and taken overseas.
People are often astonished that in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, the Pascha feast is "on and over" after the receiving of the Holy Fire! Scouts play music all around the squares. They are Greek Orthodox (Arab), Syrian Orthodox and Armenians. People often leave to the airport or to some harbor. May this fire really enlighten us on the road this year and allow to show loving-kindness and truth to all with goodness.(c) Ioannis, Holylandphotos