Thousands of believers will gather near the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem in the anticipation of the miraculous descent of the Holy Fire.
According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, among the believers will be Russian political, religious and public figures who had arrived in Jerusalem within the delegation of the Social Fund of Andrew the First Called Apostle. They will deliver the Holy Fire to Moscow from Jerusalem just in time for the Easter church service to begin in the Church of Christ the Savior at 11 p.m. Moscow time.
The Holy Fire has been descending in the Holy Sepulchre Church for more than one millenium. The famous Church Father St. Gregory of Nyssa is believed to be one of the first to mention the miracle on the eve of the Resurrection of Christ back in the 4th century.
The church service of the Holy Fire begins about 24 hours before the Orthodox Easter begins. This year it coincides with the Easter celebrations of other Christian confessions.
Inside the Church above the Holy Sepulchre, there is a small chapel called Kuvuklia. As tradition has it, at 10-11 a.m. on Holy Saturday a priest clad in inner-rason brings a big icon lamp where the Holy Fire is expected to descend and 33 candles (the number of the years of Christ's earthly life) into the cave. Then Kuvuklia is sealed.
After a series of rituals, the Orthodox Patriarch stops opposite the entrance to the chapel. His chasuble is taken off, and he is left wearing the linen chimer only for everyone to see that he is not taking any matches or other fire making devices with him. The Patriarch goes inside, and the doors behind him are sealed with a big piece of wax and a red ribbon.
Then light is switched off in the church and anticipatory silence follows.
The believers pray, confess their sins and ask God to grant them the Holy Fire.
After a while, the entire Church becomes covered with lightning lines that seem to be sliding down the walls and columns. In parallel, the candles held by those inside the Church and on the square are miraculously lit up. Witnesses say that Kuvuklia then begins to shine, and a vertical broad column of light descends on the Holy Sepulchre through the hole in the church's dome. Then the doors of the church open and the Patriarch comes out to bless the believers and gives them the Holy Fire.
Notably, in the beginning the fire has a miraculous feature - it does not burn at all.