Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AP) — The dark hall inside Christianity’s holiest shrine was illuminated with the flames from thousands of candles on Saturday as worshippers participated in the holy fire ceremony, a momentous spiritual event in Orthodox Easter rites.

Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected at the site where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands in the Old City of Jerusalem. While the source of the holy fire is a closely guarded secret, believers say the flame appears spontaneously from his tomb on the day before Easter to show Jesus has not forgotten his followers.

The ritual dates back at least 1,200 years.