The Holy Light

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It symbolizes but also magnificently attests the Great Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ Resurrection from death. It fills us with feelings of spiritual and religious exaltation. All hearts beat full of faith, admiration and hope for the Great Mystery of life. It is about a real miracle that leaves no room for doubt.

On the day of Great Saturday, from the morning hours, thousands of believers and pilgrims from all over the world flock to the Church of the Resurrection to take part in the ceremony of the Holy Light.

At 12 noon, the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, accompanied by Holy Hierarchs and other clergy, arrive at the Patriarchate. The Patriarch enters the Holy Step (Vema) of the Catholicon and the heterodox are then granted permission to take part in the Ceremony of the Holy Light. Then the Hierarchs and Clergy put on their vestments and the Patriarch his full Hierarchal vestments. The Patriarch then heads the procession, which starts from the Holy Step of the Catholicon and walks three times around the Holy Edicule while the choir chants the familiar troparion: “Your Resurrection Christ Saviour…”.

It is necessary to note that the heterodox have already carefully examined the interior of the Holy Edicule, to ensure there are no lit oil lamps or any other source of light. Following the Holy litany the Patriarch stands in front of the door of the Holy Edicule, removes his ceremonial vestments and waits with his sticharion (white robe), epitrahilion (stole) and his belt. The heterodox examine the Patriarch to ensure he has nothing on Him that could arouse or draw suspicion. When they complete the search, the guards remove the seal on the door of the Edicule and the Patriarch, holding two bunches of unlit candles, enters the Holy Edicule. With him enter the Armenian Patriarch and the Dragoman who then wait at the ante-room of the Edicule. Great emotion and anxiety takes over the whole Church.

The Patriarch kneeling in front of Christ’s Holy Sepulchre prays to the Crucified holding two unlit candles, and with humility and piety pronounces the following prayer: “Despota Lord Jesus Christ, the original wisdom of the without beginning Father, oh unapproachable Light, who said that Light will proceed from darkness, who said let it be Light and there was Light. Oh Lord provider of Light who took us out of the delusion of darkness and led us to the miraculous Light of Your awareness. You fully illumined the whole earth through Your incarnate presence while the underworld through Your descent to Hades brought the light and joy and after these through Your Apostles gave the light to all nations that walked in darkness. We thank You because through pious faith, you brought us from darkness to light and we became sons through holy baptism, seeing your glory full of grace and truth. However, oh light-giver Lord, oh great light who called the people who were in darkness. Despota, Lord, the true light that illumines every man who comes in the world. The only light of the world and light whose glory filled the universe, you brought the light to the world through Your economy of incarnation even though people loved the darkness rather than the light. You Lord, giver of light, listen to us sinners and unworthy servants who, at this moment stand by this Your Most Holy and light bearing Tomb, and receive us who honour Your Holy Passion, Your most holy Crucifixion, Your voluntary death, the laying of Your divine body in this holy tomb, Your burial and Your resurrection after three days, which we joyfully have already started celebrating, remembering Your descent to Hades, by which the souls of the righteous You despotically freed, the lightning of Your divine light filled the underworld. So with happy heart and spiritual joy, on this most blessed Saturday, Your most salvific mysteries which You divinely executed on earth and under the earth we celebrate, and we remember You, the exhilarating and appealing light which You divinely shone in the underworld, we celebrate the appearance of the light, Your congenial divine appearance to us . Because during the salvific and bright night everything was filled with light, the heaven , the earth and the underworld through the supernatural mystery of Your descent to Hades and Your resurrection from the tomb after three days. By this, having received with piety, from this, Your light-bearing Tomb we offer it to those believing in You, the true light and ask and supplicate Most Holy Despota that You make this a gift of sanctification and full of Your every divine grace through the grace of your Most Holy and light- bearing Tomb. And those who touch it with piety, bless and sanctify them, free them from the darkness of passions and make them worthy of Your brightest dwellings, where the light of Your unsetting divinity shines. Lord, grant them health and good life and fill their homes with everything good.

Yes, Lord, the Light-giver, listen to me the sinner at this moment, and grant to me and to them to walk in Your light and remain in it as long as we have the light of this temporary life. Lord grant us that the light of our good works shine in front of the people together with Your without beginning Father and the Holy Spirit. You appointed us to be the light to the nations that we shine to those walking in the darkness. But we have loved the darkness rather than the light, committing evil works. Anyone who does evil works hates the light according to Your faultless word. For this we stumble every day due to our sinning because we walk in the darkness. But make us worthy to live the rest of our life with enlightened eyes and minds. Grant us to live as sons of light and walk in the light of Your commandments. The bright garment of our baptism which we have blackened by our evil works, whiten it like the light, transforming the light into garment. Grant us to dress ourselves with the weapons of light, that we may overcome the lord of darkness, who transforms himself into an angel of light. Yes, Lord, as You shone the light to those who are in darkness and under the shadow of death, likewise, today, shine in our hearts with Your pure light, so that becoming illumined and warmed up in faith, glorify You the one and only original light, exhilarating light to everlasting ages. Amen”.

After this blessing he places a piece of cotton on the Holy Tomb and miraculously it lights up. With it the Patriarch lights the candles and exits the Holy Edicule. The amazing thing is that the holy light for a few minutes does not burn. Namely, if someone touches his hands with the holy light he will not get burnt. Truly this is one of the greatest Miracles of Christianity that repeats every year on Great Saturday.