Orthodox Christians hail 'holy fire' of Easter in Jerusalem

Holy FireThousands of Orthodox Christians converged on Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Saturday to witness what they believe is the miraculous appearance of "holy fire" on the eve of Orthodox Easter.

Holy FireThe Old City was jammed with pilgrims from the Eastern Orthodox faiths including Greeks, Copts, Russians and Assyrians, seeking to reach the church, one of Christianity's holiest sites.

She came to witness what Orthodox Christians believe is an annual miracle -- the sudden appearance of a blue-coloured flame inside an ornately decorated marble tabernacle built over what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus.

The church itself is built on the site most Christians revere as the place where Jesus was crucifixed, and also where he was buried and rose again to life, the event celebrated on Easter Day.

Custody of the church is shared by the Greeks, Armenians and Roman Catholics, all of whom jealously guard their responsibilities under a fragile network of agreements hammered out over the centuries.

Early on Saturday afternoon, in a totally darkened church, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, entered alone the small marble structure built over Jesus's tomb, or sepulchre, inside the church.

It is believed that as the patriarch prays a blue, shiny light emanates from the tomb and that he then lights two candles it.

Source: AFP