Miracle of Holy Fire site mapBegining of the sectionBoris Timurovich Babilua, Orthodox, St. Petersburg, Russia (admittedly 2000)

The Remarkable Experience of the Holy Light

Boris Timurovich Babilua, freshman (I year in 2000 - ed.) at Russian Christian Humanitarian Institute (St. Petersburg, Russia (2000)

Every year on Holy Saturday the Holy Fire descends upon the deathbed of our Savior in Jerusalem. The nature of this event disturbs the human mind for centuries. Altogether, Jerusalem attracts, like a magnet; invites to visit its ancient past filled with multitude of events.

In 1998 I was lucky enough to witness the miracle of descend of the Fire, and even to accept this endowment personally. Those memories will never leave my mind. As we know from Scriptures, Josef of Arimathea took Christ's body after the crucifixion. Right then, the core meaning of the Scriptures came true in front of the Apostles.

Miracles in the place of Christ's burial were taking place all the time, from the moment of His resurrection until the modern days. The Church was built over Christ's tomb in 335 A.D.; at a time Constantine the Great was Byzantine emperor.

When Palestine was under Turkish rule, the Armenians obtained from authorities the permission to accept the Holy Fire in the Church of Holy Sepulcher. Armenians expelled the Orthodox Greeks together with their Patriarch into the street, locked themselves in the Church, and started to prey. The Fire really came, as it always had, but not on the Holy Sepulcher. It came out of the Church's exterior column where the Orthodox Greeks stood with their Patriarch. Upon accepting the Fire, Patriarch, surrounded by his followers entered the Church with lit candles. Since that time nobody argues the right of Orthodox Greeks to accept the Holy Fire. It is God's will, and always was. Until these days only Patriarch of Jerusalem and Palestine Diodoros the Beatific goes into God's presence.

Everybody, at God's will, may become witness and take part in the sacrament.

In the past five years that I had been to Jerusalem, I had a lot of contacts with monks and pilgrims. The monks have a belief, that three signs would signal the start of Armageddon: the Holy Fire would stop descending upon the Holy Sepulcher, olive trees on Mount of Olives would wither, and Holy Mary would give a sign. But the Holy Fire still descends, olive trees do not wither, and Holy Mary still favors us.

Back then; on Holy Saturday 1998, a lot of people from all over the world were in the Church. The Church servants extinguished all lamps and candles. Priests of various Christian confessions were taking turns in performing divine services. Catholic organist even played "May God save the tsar" to greet the pilgrims from Russia.

Then the time came for Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Greek soldiers escorted the Holy Litany. Singing of canticles, gonfalons, crosses, icons, festive clergy robes everywhere. All people knew that soon Patriarch will entry the Holy Sepulcher. Tensions were rising.

From one to three o'clock in the afternoon was the time of anxious waiting. Everyone was ready to accept the Holy Fire. Patriarch was being disrobed; all pontifical vestments had been taken off. Then he entered the Holy Ciborium with extinguished candles and the torch. The Holy Fire would light them. This Fire will subsequently travel all over the world and will be kept until the next year, when Almighty God will reveal His mercy again.

Together with the Patriarch, Armenian hierarch enters the Holy Sepulcher. He would be observing from Angel's distance. Doors of the Holy Ciborium had been closed and sealed behind him, just like the high priests sealed Christ's tomb. Patriarch was praying inside for a gift of the Holy Fire.

Everyone was cheering in the Church; the excitement of the crowd was on the rise. Suddenly, the Church became filled with flashes and bolts of lightning of some "concentrated" light. Once seen, one could understand those colors are pure, unnatural. Oil lamps in the Church and candles in people's hands were getting lit by themselves. Wicks in my candles got charred and smoked a little. I still keep them as a proof. Everything is flaming, I had a feeling that the Church might catch on fire, but it is impossible.

Eventually, Patriarch Diodoros together with Armenian hierarch exited the Holy Ciborium. In their hands there were flaming candles and torches. Their faces were transfigured. People, whose candles did not get lit, rushed towards them to obtain the Fire. Such is the Holiday of Christianity, the triumph of Orthodoxy!

Transfiguration. There are no other categories. The man is not the same anymore! This state of mind will keep on visiting outside of the will. One who happened to be in Jerusalem once had rejected the categories. Orthodoxy is victorious today.

It is unimaginable, a "must see" event, once in a lifetime communion.

Cited: Материалы ежегодной научной конференции. Раздел "Религиоведение, философия, богословие". © Издательство Русского Христианского гуманитарного института, 2000 г.
Materials of International scientific conference. Section "Religious studying, philosophy, theology". Pub. of Russian Christian Humanitarian Institute, 2000.

Translation: George G. (USA)

Miracle of Holy Fire site mapBegining of the sectionBoris Timurovich Babilua, Orthodox, St. Petersburg, Russia (admittedly 2000)