The ceremony of the touch of the Holy Light or Light of the Resurrection, which symbolizes the Resurrection of Christ, takes place every year at noon on Holy Saturday, during the service of the Resurrection at the Holy Sepulcher, in the Christian quarter of the old city Jerusalem.
The holiest place of Christianity, one of the most important places of worship from the 4th century onwards, is the seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Every year on Easter, therefore, the eyes of Christians everywhere - at least those who have not visited it closely - are focused on the Holy Sepulcher who are looking forward to the time of the "miracle", which is none other than the coming of the Holy Light .
Why does only an Orthodox Patriarch enter the Holy Sepulcher?
Many are wondering why Panagio Tomb, during the Resurrection ceremony and the coming of the Holy Light, only an Orthodox Patriarch enters.
To answer this question we must go back several centuries and watch the story of the "miracle". The first references to this ceremony are placed in the 2nd century AD. and speak of a symbolic representation. Later, however, with the advent of Frankish priests, things changed and the simple representation turned into a miracle.
The Arabs of the caliph Harun Al Rashid hand over the pilgrimage of the Holy Land and the relevant privileges to the papal monks, on Charlemagne, while with the death of the caliph these privileges of the monks were abolished.
During the dynasty of the first sultan of Egypt and Syria, Saladin, in 1.118 AD. The pilgrimages of the Holy Land are finally granted to the Orthodox monks, with the sultan stating that "the patriarch of the Greeks will be the lord of Kamare (temple of the Holy Sepulcher) and he will take the Holy Light from the tomb of Ikas to distributes it to the Nazarenes (Christians) ".
Thus, the Greeks were now those who had jurisdiction over the Holy Light, as well as the control that precedes the Holy Sepulcher, before the Resurrection ceremony. Rights sealed both by sultan decrees and by subsequent international agreements.
The process of controlling the Holy Sepulcher and the coming of the Holy Light
Before performing his sequence Of Holy Light, carried out a thorough check by the Israeli police as well as by representatives of other Christian denominations that have rights in the Church of the Resurrection, such as Armenians and Copts, to make sure that there is absolutely nothing inside, with the entrance sealed with pure wax and all representatives of the doctrines to place their official seal on the candle.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem takes his place at the Holy Altar of the Catholicos of the Temple a little while later to start the Holy Litany at 12.30. To his right come the representatives of the Armenians, the Copts and the Arabs, asking the permission of the Patriarch to receive the Holy Light from him.
As he says Patriarchate, as soon as the litany is completed, the patriarch takes off his hierarchical uniform and is left with only the white pen. He takes the extinguished torches and enters the Holy Canopy, where everything is extinguished. There he reads a wish, in memory of the sacrifice and her Resurrection of Christ and awaits the coming of the Holy Light.
Of great interest is the fact that when in 1549 AD. Armenians entered and locked the Holy Sepulcher in order for them to bring out the Holy Light to the faithful, a pillar outside the temple was torn and the Holy Light came out at the place where the Orthodox Patriarch was kneeling in despair, lighting his candles.
The fact is proven scientifically, with experts stating that such a crack can only be the result of electrical discharge, a terminology unknown to 16th century people.
Is the coming of the Holy Light a symbolic ceremony?
There are many who believe that the specific above prayer read by Patriarch is a secret prayer that only he knows. This is not the case, however, as it was first published in 1933 by Archimandrite Kallistos Miliaras and then republished in 1967 in the magazine "Nea Sion", the official publication of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
According to the article, the prayer states that the coming of the Holy Light is a symbolic ceremony and that the Holy Light that appears as a "miracle" at noon on Holy Saturday inside the Holy Sepulcher has a natural origin, while its characterization as "saint" is attributed to the fact that it comes out of the Holy Sepulcher.
In fact, Professor Konstantinos Kalokyris in his book "The Architectural Complex of the Church of the Resurrection of Jerusalem and the subject of the Holy Light" states, according to the wish read by the patriarch, that "nowhere is there any talk of" light coming down from above "against at that moment, but it means only natural light, which is lit in the memory of the Risen Christ ", while he adds that the Holy Light is simply" the sacred symbol of the "infinite Light" of Christ, the Holy Light, the new Light of the Resurrection ".
There are many who consider the miraculous flame a fraud, attributing it to the tricks of the clergy, in order to exploit the faithful.
More specifically, in the 19th century Adamantios Korais, and having never been to Jerusalem, rejected the rendering of the Holy Light as a miracle (he did, of course, with many practices and traditions of the Orthodox Church), claiming that it was computerization and fraud for financial gain, on the part of the church.
Theories about the miraculous origin of the Holy Light
From the first reports that prove the exact opposite, that is, that the Holy Light has a miraculous origin, they are presented in the "Journey of Etheria" which concerns the tour of a nun in the Holy Land during the 4th or 6th century. Although nowhere is it mentioned that this is a miracle, the "Holy Light that is renewed annually at Easter" was considered a famous miracle since its days.
Also interesting is the testimony of the French Catholic monk Bernard, between 865 and 870 AD, who made a pilgrimage to Palestine and Egypt, that an angel transmitted the light to the Patriarch.
On this subject, one of the most remarkable witnesses of the history of the time, Foucher de Chartres, specifically recorded that "… the long-awaited light appeared on one of the candles of the Holy Sepulcher, and those who were closer could see its reddish color … ».
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, under the auspices of which the ceremony of touch is held, to date has not taken a clear and official position regarding the miraculous origin or not of the Holy Light, as in the relevant annual announcement nowhere reported to be miraculous touch.