6 Things to Know About the “Miracle of the Holy Fire”

The “Miracle of Holy Fire” is a pious tradition among certain Orthodox Churches, but remains unrecognized by the Catholic Church.

The Miracle of the Holy Fire is a pious Orthodox tradition, but is mainly unrecognized in the Catholic Church.

Listers, the following is a brief examination of the controversial “Miracle of the Holy Fire.” The Greek Orthodox Patriarch enters the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday – according to the Orthodox calendar. He proceeds into the Tomb of Christ and begins to pray. A fire is then miraculously enkindled by the Holy Spirit – supposedly the power of the resurrection – and is shared rapidly throughout the Church and all those who are waiting outside. To be clear, it is said that Pope Gregory the IX declared “Holy Fire” a fraud in AD 1238, but a primary source is needed to confirm this papal statement. Today, the miracle is not recognized by the Catholic Church, but is considered a pious tradition of certain Orthodox Churches.

The following material is quoted from various sources. See the footnote at the end of the paragraph for the source. For an excellent collection of photos: MSNBC/Reuters – Holy Fire

1. General Description of the Miracle

On the appointed day at noon, the Greek Orthodox patriarch, followed by the Armenian archbishop, march in grand and solemn procession with their own clergies, while singing hymns. They march three times round the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Once the procession has ended, the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem or another Orthodox Archbishop recites a specific prayer, removes his robes and enters alone into the sepulchre. Before entering the Tomb of Christ, the patriarch is examined by Jewish Israeli authorities to prove that he does not carry technical means to light the fire. This investigation used to be carried out by Muslim Turkish Ottoman soldiers.

The Armenian archbishops remain in the antechamber, where the angel was sitting when he appeared to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection of Jesus. The congregation subsequently chants Kyrie eleison (“Lord, have mercy” in Greek) until the Holy Fire spontaneously descends on 33 white candles tied together by the Patriarch while he is alone inside the tomb chamber of Jesus. The patriarch then reveals himself from the tomb chamber and recites some prayers, before he lights either 33 or 12 candles and distributes them to the congregation. The fire is considered by believers to be the flame of the Resurrection power, as well as the fire of the Burning Bush of Mount Sinai.1

2. In the Patriarch’s Own Words

“I find my way through the darkness towards the inner chamber in which I fall on my knees. Here I say certain prayers that have been handed down to us through the centuries and, having said them, I wait. Sometimes I may wait a few minutes, but normally the miracle happens immediately after I have said the prayers. From the core of the very stone on which Jesus lay an indefinable light pours forth. It usually has a blue tint, but the color may change and take many different hues. It cannot be described in human terms. The light rises out of the stone as mist may rise out of a lake it almost looks as if the stone is covered by a moist cloud, but it is light. This light each year behaves differently. Sometimes it covers just the stone, while other times it gives light to the whole sepulchre, so that people who stand outside the tomb and look into it will see it filled with light. The light does not burn I have never had my beard burnt in all the sixteen years I have been Patriarch in Jerusalem and have received the Holy Fire. The light is of a different consistency than normal fire that burns in an oil lamp.

“At a certain point the light rises and forms a column in which the fire is of a different nature, so that I am able to light my candles from it. When I thus have received the flame on my candles, I go out and give the fire first to the Armenian Patriarch and then to the Coptic. Hereafter I give the flame to all people present in the Church.”2

3. Video: Inside the “Church of the Resurrection”

4. Video: Outside the “Church of the Resurrection”

5. A Brief History of the Holy Fire

The first written account of the Holy Fire (Holy Light) dates from the fourth century, but authors write about events that occurred in the first century. So Ss. John Damascene and Gregory of Nissa narrate how the Apostle Peter saw the Holy Light in the Holy Sepulchre after Christ’s resurrection. “One can trace the miracle throughout the centuries in the many itineraries of the Holy Land.” The Russian abbot Daniel, in his itinerary written in the years 1106-07, presents the “Miracle of the Holy Light” and the ceremonies that frame it in a very detailed manner. He recalls how the Patriarch goes into the Sepulchre-chapel (the Anastasis) with two candles. The Patriarch kneels in front of the stone on which Christ was laid after his death and says certain prayers, at which point the miracle occurs. Light proceeds from the core of the stone – a blue, indefinable light which after some time kindles unlit oil lamps as well as the Patriarch’s two candles. This light is “The Holy Fire”, and it spreads to all people present in the Church. The ceremony surrounding “The Miracle of the Holy Fire” may be the oldest unbroken Christian ceremony in the world. From the fourth century A.D. all the way up to our own time, sources recall this awe-inspiring event. From these sources it becomes clear that the miracle has been celebrated on the same spot, on the same feast day, and in the same liturgical frame throughout all these centuries.3

Nir Elias / Reuters

6. Criticism of the Holy Fire

Criticism dates at least to the days of Islamic rule of Jerusalem, but the pilgrims were never stopped, because of the significant revenue they brought to local governments even at the end of the first millennium. When the apparently uninitiated Crusaders took over the Orthodox clergy in charge of the fire, it failed to appear, increasing the scepticism among Western Christians. But feeling the lack of pilgrim revenues, Baldwin I of Jerusalem reinstated the Orthodox priests in charge, and the fire, as well as the stream of revenues, returned.

In 1238, Pope Gregory IX denounced the Holy Fire as a fraud.

In 2005 in a live demonstration on Greek television, Michael Kalopoulos, author and historian of religion, dipped three candles in white phosphorus. The candles spontaneously ignited after approximately 20 minutes due to the self-ignition properties of white phosphorus when in contact with air. According to Kalopoulos’ website:

If phosphorus is dissolved in an appropriate organic solvent, self-ignition is delayed until the solvent has almost completely evaporated. Repeated experiments showed that the ignition can be delayed for half an hour or more, depending on the density of the solution and the solvent employed.

Kalopoulos also points out that knowledge of chemical reactions of this nature was well known in ancient times, quoting Strabo, who states “In Babylon there are two kinds of naphtha springs, a white and a black. The white naphtha is the one that ignites with fire.” (Strabon Geographica He further states that phosphorus was used by Chaldean magicians in the early fifth century BC, and by the ancient Greeks, in a way similar to its supposed use today by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.4

  1. Wiki: Holy Fire []
  2. Miracle of the Holy Fire – Interview []
  3. Miracle of the Holy Fire: Orthodox Site []
  4. Wiki: Holy Fire []
  • Felix

    It’s a shocking fraud. And the Orthodox add to this by citing it as a “proof” of Roman errors.

    • Felix, no arguments with your comment; however, if you could provide SPL with some primary sources stating the miracle is in fact a fraud or anything of the like, we will gladly publish an update.


      • Larry

        There is no need to argue anything since no Proof has been given. It is not up to Felix to prove it is not a fraud, it is up to the church to prove it is a miracle. As stated above—
        ” Today, the miracle is not recognized by the Catholic Church, but is considered a pious tradition of certain Orthodox Churches”.
        No Proof needed.

    • Nick

      Nope it’s not a fraud! In the article they are mentioning phosphorus and other tricks with candles. OK, even if the Patriarch did some trick with the candle, how that FIRE that has been used to light up other people’s candles do not harm anyone?

      You cannot fake fire, fire is fire and it will burn you, unless it is a Holy Fire!

      One more thing, lot of people are bringing their own candles from their own countries, holy fire from all those candles is not harmful!

      Miracles are all around, just people don’t see them or better to say they do not want to see that because that may have influence on their conscience and way of life… hedonism..

      My relative was there and held candle under his chin and nothing happened, he didn’t burn himself.

      “They have eyes, they don’t see, they have ears, they don’t hear..”

  • If it’s a fraud, that would be quite disrespectful of the Lord’s Resurrection and Tomb. Though there are many alleged frauds in the world, such as this one: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/ark-covenant-200712.html

    If it’s a miracle, that would be a great reminder of the Lord’s Resurrection and Tomb. And there are many alleged relics in the world, such as these: http://www.flickr.com/photos/40882448@N07/sets/72157628101329066/with/6332963323/

    Still, I think the Church should investigate the miracle and pray to Mary, Queen of the Holy Sepulchre, for the truth to be known – if it be, according to God’s Holy Will, to His greater glory and for the salvation of souls, especially of sinners.

    • peter

      what is Mary’s role and since when is she granting answers to prayers? please use the Bible as reference!

      • Matt

        Since when is the Bible the sole source of Christian doctrine? Since when do we know what books are suppose to constitute the canon of Scripture? Please use the Bible as reference!

        • Chris

          Prayer to Mary?

          Peter rejected bowing and veneration and so did Paul

          Where in tradition did Mary accept prayer? It was against Jewish law.

          Mary was a jew, not a catholic. Lets get this historically correct regardless

          Of catholicisms oral or written tradition

          • I think there might be a couple of misunderstandings resulting in this post. Below is a very good article that should help explain what is meant by veneration of the saints, or in asking them for prayer.

            By God’s grace, when I was led to begin studying my faith this article was a great help to me. I hope it will be the same. God Bless.


  • Mike X

    A fraud??? You mean like all Pentecostal/Charismatic miracles? hahahhahahaha!

  • Greenman

    I don’t know what to make of it. The article starts off with the words ‘Miracle of the Holy Fire’ and then steadily proceeds to debunk it. I see a lot of excited people. I don’t see any reverence. More like a bazaar scene. Again,can’t say I’ve heard of it. But, I will pray that the Lord enlightens the Church to it’s veracity.

  • Holy Light: web.archive.org/web/20070623042601/http://www.holylight.gr/enmain.html

  • Jim Cole

    If phosphorus is really being used here, seems like testing the candles that the Patriarch carries in would reveal it. Otherwise, the section that describes how phosphorus self-ignites is just a red herring. No connection is actually made between phosphorus and the Holy Fire in the article. The authors have done a disservice to put the description in a section called “Criticism of the Holy Fire,” when it has not been connected with the Holy Fire at all. Pointing out that phosphorus self-ignites and can be put into candles does nothing to show that it is being used in Jerusalem at Easter by the Orthodox Patriarch.

  • Jack

    I don’t know if the writer of this article has been to Jerusalem for the Holy Fire. I have not,

    But I have met too many people who have been there for it and have seen it personally to believe that it is fradulent.

    Would you all be willing to write a similar article debunking the so called “Eucharistic Miracle” of Lanciano?

    Speaking as an Eastern Christian, I would cherish such a piece.

  • kermit

    the Orthodox claim (at least some do) that the holy fire is a proof that they are right and the Catholic are wrong.
    therefore I am happy to know that there is a completely natural explanation for it.
    Viva Christo Rey!

  • Jack

    \\the Orthodox claim (at least some do) that the holy fire is a proof that they are right and the Catholic are wrong.
    therefore I am happy to know that there is a completely natural explanation for it.
    Viva Christo Rey!\\

    Except for the fact that there are NOT phosphor-soaked candles held by the bystanders, but they still frequently ignite spontaneously, as do the hanging lamps that were extinguished before the descent of the Holy Fir.

    Try again.

    • Chris

      How do you know? They could be planted. I would like to believe in miracles but when there is a scientific explanation, it sure makes it hard.

  • MikeD

    Offensive, to say the least. What in God’s name caused you to bring this up? Perhaps I shouldn’t ask. It is uncharitable to be criticizing the pious practices of our Orthodox brethren. They are, after all, the only other group of Christians in the world that Rome refers to as “churches” instead of “ecclesial communities” and Rome recognizes they have valid apostolic succession, sacraments, etc. Get out your CCC and read up on them. We have plenty of skeletons in our own Catholic closet to focus on, especially in these weird times. I guarantee we have more wackiness than they do! Unless you are an Ultramontanist, for whom criticism of the Orthodox would be routine, start to realize that we should work with them, especially in an increasingly hostile and anti-christian world. We have much more in common than that which separates us. Lord, have mercy on us all.

  • Do we really need to tear down the faith and customs of the Orthodox? They are the only other Church (yes, Church) that shares the Apostolic faith and life.
    I find it especially interesting that secular and non believing sources are used to bolster the argument that the Holy Fire is a fraud. Some the same sources are part of the “debunking” of basic truths of the Gospel.
    Even if some Orthodox try to use the Holy Fire as a polemical weapon against the Catholic Church, do we have to stoop as low?
    Are there not better things to be concerned with? What about the fact that we need to be building bridges with the Orthodox (as Pope Benedict has stated over and over).
    Do we really think that the walls we build on earth between our Orthodox sisters and brothers really extend to heaven?
    May St. Peter, First Apostle and Bishop of Rome and St. James, Brother of the Lord and first Bishop of Jerusalem, the City of Our Redemption, pray for us to God!

  • AZ

    If you need a miracle to believe, you have no faith.

    • T.V. Weber

      You might be right. If so, the less faith we have, the more miracles God needs to send. The more faith we have, the less likely we are to see a miracle. Interesting possibility, to say the least!

  • Cyberk9sheriff

    Amen brother AZ…Amen

  • Greek Pascal fire: 7 enigmas? You answer!

    1. Timing
    Jesus resurrected between midnight and before dawn. Word of God. Amen.
    God is not inconsistent. Why would a miracle related to his resurrection occur on the wrong day and time? (Saturday 12:00 PM). Why does the miracle is not punctual and differs by many minutes each year?

    2. Natural calendar
    God is the Lord of history. He still rules the motions of the earth, moon and sun. Emmerick explains that some feasts are related to their position. That’s why Resurrection Sunday lies the closest after the first full moon after spring (vernal equinox).
    Old Julian Calendar, used by the Orthodox Greeks, does not follow God’s natural order as well: it has a large deviation with respect to the movement of celestial bodies! God does not make mistakes. He is omnisapient and omnipresent. Why God would choose a false cosmological date?

    3. Supernatural calendar
    The Pascal time (50 days after Resurrection) is a period for rejoicing. We even pray joyful Regina Coeli instead of the Angelus. This liturgical period overcomes even nature: for instance, in the Southern Hemisphere it is the beginning of “sad” winter.
    Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerick explains that God pours graces following the Roman Catholic Church liturgical calendar. Why the Roman Church? Jesus gave Peter the keys which untie and pour Heaven’s graces.
    Emmerick had even thematic visions according to the feasts of her local diocese. Why? The Pope, by delegating his power, allows bishops to establish some feasts, but not all, and especially not Resurrection Sunday.
    Why wouldn’t God prefer the calendar of the only “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” set by Pope Gregory XIII, THE representative of Christ on earth?

    4. God can’t lead away from His Church
    Doctor of the Church, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in the best book ever, about Virgin Mary, the “Treaty of the True Devotion to Mary”, wrote that God can’t do miracles which would not point to the Roman Catholic Church. If not, He would be leading people away from Truth.
    Big checkable miracles happen only in the Catholic Church. In the separated orthodox churches, there are no incorrupt bodies of saints, no Eucharistic miracles, no miracles of the Sun (like Fatima), no healings due to the canonization of a Saint, no stigmatists (all non-Catholics, convert to Catholicism, the true Church), no messages from Our Lady, no liquefying blood of saints, no holy oil emanating from saint’s bodies, etc.
    Best example:
    The Greek fire led the person of the video to a wrong conversion, to the Greek Orthodox Church, a nearly severed but still living part of the body of Christ (hanging from an artery, but not very functional as growth statistics reveal).

    5. Historical records
    Before 870 AD, there are no testimonies, even among dozens of documented pilgrimages to the Holy Land. After that, there are too few comments among thousands of pilgrim’s diaries.
    Why would God the Son wait nearly a thousand years to honor his resurrection with such sign?
    Why are there so few comments, especially among Roman Catholics?

    6. Is God Greek?
    There was at least one period formally assumed by a non-Greek patriarch (Russian): no fire.
    “Historically, attempts to detach the Miracle from the local (Greek) Bishop have been just as unsuccessful”
    Why would it prefer the Greek Patriarch among other orthodox ones or even among other bishops with more antiquity, local roots and faithfulness to Jesus Church (Peter’s) like the Maronite (Syrian-Lebanese Roman Catholic rite)?
    Why would God not favor the Latin rite Roman Catholic Bishop or even the Pope?
    God does not discriminate. God is not unfair. He is perfect justice. It makes no sense that over a thousand years only all Greek Patriarch “deserved” this honor even if other bishops would have a higher right, either formally (closeness to Peter’s Cathedra) or subjectively (personal sainthood).
    If God wanted a testimony for all nations, why would He choose a national Church (Greek), instead of a truly “universal” one: the Roman Catholic Church, the one He founded?

    7. Should you trust your own very eyes?
    a) Why isn’t anybody allowed to witness the actual lighting? Why does it take so long to light the 66 candles? Wouldn’t an angel do it in an instant? Why it fails with other Patriarchs? Hidden match? Phosphorus in a detachable part of the clothes? Delayed chemical reaction in the candles?
    b) It’s easy to digitally edit a video
    c) Digital CMOS autofocus and processing does weird effects sometimes.
    d) Daemons have power over the material, if God allows. Check youtube videos of pentecostal/charismatic/evangelical protestants “flying” off as soon as touched by the “pastor”.

    Only the Pope of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church has the authority to say that something is really a trustworthy miracle (constat de supernaturalitate). Why didn’t it happen in over a thousand years?

    “When the apparently uninitiated Crusaders took over the Orthodox clergy in charge of the fire, it failed to appear, increasing the skepticism. In 1238, Pope Gregory IX, who canonized St. Francis of Assisi, denounced the Holy Fire as a fraud.”

    Wikipedia: not 100% trustworthy but might contain some truths
    As with all alleged miracles, many question the validity of the Holy Fire, noting, for instance, that cold-handed pilgrims generally withstand the fire for the same very brief periods of time as can be achieved with any fire.
    Criticism dates at least to the days of Islamic rule of Jerusalem, but the pilgrims were never stopped, because of the significant revenue they brought to local governments even at the end of the first millennium. When the apparently uninitiated Crusaders took over the Orthodox clergy in charge of the fire, it failed to appear, increasing the skepticism among Western Christians. But feeling the lack of pilgrim revenues, Baldwin I of Jerusalem reinstated the Orthodox priests in charge, and the fire, as well as the stream of revenues, returned.
    The Ottoman traveller, Evliya Celebi, claimed that a hidden zinc jar of naphtha was dripped down a chain by a hidden monk.[13]
    Edward Gibbon wrote scathingly about the alleged phenomenon in the concluding volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:
    This pious fraud, first devised in the ninth century, was devoutly cherished by the Latin crusaders, and is annually repeated by the clergy of the Greek, Armenian, and Coptic sects, who impose on the credulous spectators for their own benefit and that of their tyrants.[14]
    Some Greeks have been critical of the Holy Fire, such as Adamantios Korais who condemned what he considered to be religious fraud in his treatise “On the Holy Light of Jerusalem.” He referred to the event as “machinations of fraudulent priests” and to the “unholy” light of Jerusalem as “a profiteers’ miracle”.
    In 2005 in a live demonstration on Greek television, Michael Kalopoulos, author and historian of religion, dipped three candles in white phosphorus. The candles spontaneously ignited after approximately 20 minutes due to the self-ignition properties of white phosphorus when in contact with air. According to Kalopoulos’ website:
    If phosphorus is dissolved in an appropriate organic solvent, self-ignition is delayed until the solvent has almost completely evaporated. Repeated experiments showed that the ignition can be delayed for half an hour or more, depending on the density of the solution and the solvent employed.
    Kalopoulos also points out that chemical reactions of this nature were well known in ancient times, quoting Strabo, who states “In Babylon there are two kinds of naphtha springs, a white and a black. The white naphtha is the one that ignites with fire.” (Strabon Geographica16.1.15.1-24) He further states that phosphorus was used by Chaldean magicians in the early fifth century BC, and by the ancient Greeks, in a way similar to its supposed use today by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.[15]
    Russian skeptic Igor Dobrokhotov has analysed the evidence for an alleged miracle at length at his website, including the ancient sources[16] and contemporary photos and videos.[17] He has also reproduced fire-bathing and has uncovered contradictions in the story of the “column split by lightning.”
    Dobrokhotov and other critics, including Russian Orthodox researcher Nikolay Uspensky,[18] Dr. Aleksandr Musin of Sorbonne, and some Old Believers quote excerpts from the diaries of Bishop Porphyrius (Uspensky) (1804-1885)[19] which told that the clergy in Jerusalem knew that the Holy Fire was fraudulent.
    Porphyrius was a Russian Orthodox archimandrite who was sent on the official Church-related research mission to Jerusalem and other places (Egypt, Mount Athos). While in Jerusalem, he founded the Russian Mission there. Later, after his return to the Russian Empire, he was made a bishop in the diocese of Kiev.

    • T.V. Weber

      Ok, I will try to answer your “questions.”

      1. Why should God perform on your timetable? The light is obviously a prelude to the Resurrection. It would seem even more fishy if it happened when we would expected it. BTW, you might want to re-write the last sentence in your paragraph 1; not too sure what you are trying to say.

      2. FYI, the Orthodox Church (both Eastern and Oriental) has always used the same method for determining the Resurrection celebration generally known as “Pascha.” The Roman Church used to celebrate on the same date but changed it around 700 AD. Even if the Orthodox Churches have the wrong date, God is under no obligation to follow your celestial logic. He is God and can do what he wants.

      3. Funny thing about the “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic” business. Every Orthodox Christian believes those words describe his church and, maybe or maybe not the Roman one, as well. The word “Catholic” is a characteristic. Those who have Greek as a first language generally believe that it means “fullness.” However, there is a good argument that it might mean “universal” as well. Several Protestant denominations feel their church is “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic” too. No one believes that the Protestant church calling itself the “Apostolic Church” has Apostolic succession or any better connection to the actual Apostles than anyone else.

      The ONLY people who believe that Peter had any more “keys to the kingdom” than any other Apostle are Roman Catholic. Besides, Peter was the Bishop of Antioch much earlier and for a much longer time than he was in Roman. Of course, the See in Antioch is Eastern Orthodox. So, if you push that Peter with the keys thing too far, you might not end up where you want to be anyhow. The Pope is the Bishop of Roman and can use whatever calendar he likes for Christians that follow him.

      4. Hate to break the news to you, but God does miracles for Protestants, Orthodox, Jews and maybe even others. Incorruptible bodies of Orthodox Saints are commonplace, even long after the 1054 schism. Yes, there are many Orthodox healing miracles. Oh yes, there are numerous examples of Protestant healing miracles, too. Yes, big verifiable ones too! It is not too clear what you mean by “Eucharistic miracles”, but just try to get an Orthodox priest to give you Communion! One of the reasons they refuse to give Communion to any non-Orthodox Christian is that some really bad things have happened when they do. But, don’t take my word for it, ask an Orthodox priest.

      5. We have no idea when this phenomenon started. It could date back to the First Century. All we know is that it was an established tradition at the time of the first written account. And if God waited a while, so what? A day to the Lord is like 1,000 years and 1,000 years like a day.

      6. God may or may not be Greek, but He decided to write the New Testament in that language, so there must be some connection. But, it seems you have no idea what the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is. To make a long story short, at the time that church was built, it was believed to be the site where Jesus Christ had been buried. While there are other possible site for Lord’s burial, the crypt beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the most likely candidates based on modern evidence. Not too many people think our Lord was buried in Rome. If you have some evidence that He was, I would be glad to look at it.

      7. Believing our own eyes is sometimes a good idea. Maybe that is why God gave us eyes.

      You may feel an obligation to believe the Pope about everything, but Popes tend to blow hot and cold on their opinions. Ever hear of a guy named “Galileo”? Pope told him that Sun revolves around the Earth. My favorite Roman Catholic Saint is St. Joan of Arc. Seems that the Pope did nothing to stop her from being burnt at the stake. Maybe that was the French version of Holy Fire. How about the Pope who helped all those Nazis get out Europe after World War II? Sorry, but the Pope is only human. Oh yes, as of 1870, he has the right do declare himself “infallible” when the circumstances are right. But, it seems he only played that card twice. Neither time was on the question of pre-Resurrection cold-fire candles at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

      It may be a fraud, but I don’t think that is very likely. However, after reading your post, I am even less likely to think it is a fraud. But, your efforts at apologetic for the Roman Catholic Church are even more questionable. Give me a guy like Father Phil (who posted above) any time. Christians of all persuasions need to reconcile. We are not perfect; only God is.

      • ted perantinides

        i totally agree with you.people should know that when a human hand is placed above alit candle it will burn the skin almost immediately. the r.c.s do not want to admit that it is a holy fire.

  • T.V. Weber

    If this is a fraud, it is a good one.

    How can you make a cold fire that you can pass from candle to candle and have it still burn cold?

    How can the candle burning with this cold fire turn into real fire later on?

    How do these Bishops sneak the materials in to make this happen despite careful government inspection?

    If it were a fraud and the fire was not really cold, why can’t someone go there and burn a finger, beard, etc. and show that the fire does burn like real fire?

    If it is a fraud, it is a very dumb one from a risk/reward basis. Prove it is a fraud–which has NEVER been done–and the entire Eastern Orthodox faith (and perhaps the Oriental Orthodox as well) looks really bad. Heck, all of Christendom is a bit tainted. If you don’t get caught what do you gain? We surely don’t see people lining up to be Orthodox from the experience.

    God does a few miracles and He is under no obligation to perform all miracles for people who practice the same form of Christianity. This one looks like the real deal! Get over it!

  • KAE

    I’m Greek and I totally believe that it’s a miracle. At least as far as I remember, Orthdoxs never started a crusade, were treasure greedy or had so many sexual abuse scandals as the Catholics. It’s all about a different point of view. Just because you don;t have proof that doesn’t mean that its a fraud. And as for the Easter timing well… I’ve never had a Great Saturday without rain… Actually it rains cats and dogs right now…

  • Vladimir Vladimirovich

    i was there few yrs ago… that flame can’t burn… i washed my hand and had with… that. and “works” only on orthodox! :)
    greetings from Serbia!


    • T.V. Weber

      Always good to hear from a Serbian friend. It was not the Holy Fire, but the faith of the Serbian people that brought my wife and I to the Orthodox faith.

      Sorry, but I don’t have Cyrillic fonts on this computer, so I will answer in English.


  • notimportant

    For the people who claim that the holy fire miracle is a fraud: if it was a fraud, could ALL the Patriarch / Bishops who have performed this ritual for centuries been able to hide the fact that it is a fraud? Were they ALL ready to lie in God’s name, for centuries? The Church, orthodox or other, doesn’t need to invent such a lie to attract believers. Open your hearts people, not your minds! The holy fire yearly event is full of deep, beautiful yet powerful symbols. It happens that it occurs on the orthodox calender dates, but it in fact a message to all the believers in the Christ’s Resurrection. Christos Anesti, Christ has risen, celebrate, rejoice and stop asking yourselves meaningless questions.

  • Theodosios

    I didn’t realize there was that much anti-Orthodox feelings amongst Catholics. At the end of the day you either have faith or you do not. The church as we know it was split in the Great Schism of 1054. More learned people will know this was primarily a political divide than anything else. However centuries of autonomous rule between the Catholics and Orthodox has led to more and more theological differences. As an Orthodox Christian I feel Easter is the most important spiritual time of the year. If Catholics or Protestants don’t feel moved by this yearly miracle that is fine but don’t say therefore its a hoax simply because you follow a different denomination. Are miracles by God only done in one particular church and not an other? After all Christ has taught us, we are still ignorant to HIS teachings.

  • F. Nazar


    Hi Orthodox friends!

    Before making your mind please analyse the evidence:




    Could you provide with any post-schism incorruptible saint picture as good as these?

    And this:

    I thought so!
    Please come back home to Rome!
    St. Peter’s See is in Rome (and keys with the Pope): to make sure there is no discussion, his body was recently found… exactly under the main altar.
    By the way, we believe the Pope is only infallible in issues on faith and morality.

    • T.V. Weber

      We are a little confused here. Just exactly what does incorruptible bodies of Roman Catholic and/or Eastern Orthodox Saints have to do with the Holy Fire in Jerusalem?

      Perhaps we can assume that you feel that more incorruptible bodies of Saints somehow implies that that flavor of Christianity has more credibility than the flavors of Christianity with with fewer Saints with incorruptible bodies.

      Speaking on behalf of thousands of Orthodox Christians (and perhaps a Protestant or two), even if every Roman Catholic–Saint or not–has an incorruptible body and no Orthodox Christian ever has an incorruptible body, we shan’t be the least bit tempted to join the Roman Catholic Church. It just is not that important of an issue. In fact, a case could be made–although it many not be very likely–that God may feel that Roman Church does such a poor job of determining who should be a Saint that it needs a major hint–such as an incorruptible body–to make the point clear.

      If your faith is based upon miracles alone, it isn’t a very deep faith. If scientific scrutiny is necessary to substantiate your faith, the faith is not very deep.

      Rome is not our home! Peter is just one of twelve special Apostles. He, and Judas Iscariot, were the only two of those twelve to deny Christ. Peter repented and was restored to Jesus’ trust. Judas committed suicide.

      Many Christians do not believe that Peter was ever Bishop of Rome. Some Protestants are not even convinced that Peter ever came to Rome. But, it is an indisputable historical fact that Peter was the first Bishop of Antioch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Patriarchs_of_Antioch

      So, if Peter is your key,
      Antioch is your See!

      • amyga615

        Excellent response. May we love one another as Christ loves us. Lord have mercy on us all!

    • ted perantinides

      prove to the world that the corpse was actually st. peter.you cannot and you know it.

  • Notimportant

    Hello F.Nazar,

    Do you think God really cares about whether we follow the Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant Church?

    What matters is the belief in the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. And Christianity is all about love, compassion and acceptance.

    I myself am a Lebanese Christian, following the Greek Orthodox church and i am happy about it. Neither will i try to convince you to follow the same Church, and in parallel nor would i accept any recommendation to follow any other church, as long as we all accept each others and understand that the diversity in the rituals that God has offered is in fact a richness and not a competition between churches. Just chose where you feel you fit better and worship our Lord peacefully.

    If God has accepted the Orthodox Church by guaranteeing its continuity throughout the centuries (and for the skeptical: by showing many miracles such as the Holy Light Miracle) the same way he has shown his acceptance of the Catholic Church, who are we to refute it?

    Are we still in the middle age? Quoting one of the readers above “After all Christ has taught us, we are still ignorant to HIS teachings.”

  • Orthodoxia

    Thoxa si O Theos – I am blessed and grateful to have been Baptised Greek Orthodox. See yia.

  • I personally have a friend who has been there twice, and while standing outside of the tomb, her own candles lit completely by themselves. As for the one who said you shouldn’t need miracles in order to have faith – I don’t know anyone who depends upon the miracle of the Holy Fire in order to have faith. When you are Orthodox, you do witness many miracles though, including weeping icons. I was in Jerusalem last year, and on Great and Holy Friday, the crucifixion icon in the Chapel of St. Longinus was weeping myrrh – from the figures of St. Longinus (the Centurion), the Good Thief, and the Theotokos. Also, the icons painted on the stone the ceiling over Golgotha were weeping myrrh that night.

  • Costas

    For the man who claimed that no miracles occur in any denomination besides the Catholic Church, you are severely mistaken. It is the Orthodox Church that produces the miracles, whether it is the weeping icons that weep holy myrrh, healing icons, The Holy Fire itself, The Miracle of the Holy Snakes in Kefalonia Greece, and the Miracle of Saint Markella in Chios Greece. There are many, but it take faith to believe in them as well. And we don’t publicize our churches miracles to the masses because “revenue” doesn’t matter to us, only those who truly believe in the Orthodox Teachings of Jesus Christ do.

  • Billy

    It is so sad that this sacrilege has been repeated over and over for so may hundred of years at the holiest site in Christendom. What a foul and unholy desecration. The bishop who continues this great deception is debased by it, and the entire faith is demeaned. When people starve to death everywhere, an angel is sent by God to do what? Light candles? How utterly tragic. What a terrible thing, what a scandal. Someone will eventually record this little trick and bring dishonor to Christ and His Church.

    • notimportant

      What’s sad is your lack of understanding of what the orthodox church and its children are really about.

  • L B

    all I can say…is pray. I know Holy Fire exists. It is a personal experience that others ‘wont’ believe.

  • A. Karin Schultze

    I pray to the Nazarene family that the power of the strongman be broken in my son’s (nieces/nephews/godchild, parents, grandparents, ggrandparents (step), gggrandparents)) family tree according to 1 Samuel 17, Isaiah 49:25-26; breaking the trees planted in our life/eternal life. Break Thou, oh Lord, the power of ancestral idols according to Exodus 20; Psalm 2:8-9, release us from the cage of family idols in Jesus name and silence the evil cry of ancestral idols, through the Virgin Mary’s intercession according to Acts 19, Obadiah 1:3-4; Break thou, oh Lord, the power of ancestral idols and break them with a rod of iron, dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel according to Psalm 2:8-9 and the following scripture passages:

    Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 9:22; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4; Galatians 5:20; Exodus 20:22; Exodus 32:4; Exodus 32:8; Exodus 34:17; Leviticus 17:7; Leviticus 19:4; Leviticus 26:1; Leviticus 26:30; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 4:15; Deuteronomy 4:16; Deuteronomy 4:23; Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 9:12; Deuteronomy 9:16; Deuteronomy 12:3; Deuteronomy 27:15; • Deuteronomy 29:17; Deuteronomy 32:16; Deuteronomy 32:21; Judges 17:1; Judges 17:4; Judges 18:17; Judges 18:18; Judges 18:17-19; Judges 18:20; Judges 18:30; Judges 18:31; 1 Samuel 12:21; 1 Samuel 15:23; 1 Samuel 19:13; 1 Samuel 19:16; 1 Samuel 31:9; 2 Samuel 5:21; 1 Kings 14:9; 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 16:13; 1 Kings 16:26; 1 Kings 21:26; 2 Kings 9:22; 2 Kings 11:18; 2 Kings 17:12; 2 Kings 17:15; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 17:41; 2 Kings 21:11; 2 Kings 21:21; 2 Kings 22:17; 2 Kings 23:5; 2 Kings 23:24; 1 Chronicles 10:9; 1 Chronicles 16:26; 2 Chronicles 11:15; 2 Chronicles 15:8; 2 Chronicles 23:17; 2 Chronicles 24:18; 2 Chronicles 28:2; 2 Chronicles 33:19; 2 Chronicles 33:22; 2 Chronicles 34:3; 2 Chronicles 34:4; 2 Chronicles 34:7; 2 Chronicles 34:33; Psalm 24:4; Psalm 31:6; Psalm 78:58; Psalm 96:5; Psalm 97:7; Psalm 106:19; Psalm 106:36; Psalm 106:38; Psalm 115:4; Psalm 135:15; Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 2:18; Isaiah 2:20; Isaiah 10:10; Isaiah 10:11; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 19:3; Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 31:7; Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 40:20; Isaiah 41:7; Isaiah 41:22; Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 44:9; Isaiah 44:10; Isaiah 44:12; Isaiah 44:15; Isaiah 44:17; Isaiah 45:16; Isaiah 45:20; Isaiah 46:1; Isaiah 48:14; Isaiah 57:6; Isaiah 57:13; Isaiah 66:3; Jeremiah 2:5; Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 2:11; Jeremiah 3:23; Jeremiah 4:1; Jeremiah 7:30; Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 10:1; Jeremiah 10:5; Jeremiah 10:8; Jeremiah 10:14; Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 14:22; Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 16:19; Jeremiah 18:15; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 50:2; Jeremiah 50:38; Jeremiah 51:17; Jeremiah 51:47; Jeremiah 51:52; Ezekiel 5:9; Ezekiel 6:4; Ezekiel 6:5; Ezekiel 6:6; Ezekiel 6:9; Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 7:20; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 8:5; Ezekiel 8:10; Ezekiel 8:12; Ezekiel 9:1; Ezekiel 11:18; Ezekiel 11:21; Ezekiel 14:1; Ezekiel 14:3; Ezekiel 14:4; Ezekiel 14:5; Ezekiel 14:6; Ezekiel 14:7; Ezekiel 16:17; Ezekiel 16:20; Ezekiel 16:21; Ezekiel 16:36; Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 18:12; Ezekiel 18:15; Ezekiel 20:7; Ezekiel 20:8; Ezekiel 20:16; Ezekiel 20:18; Ezekiel 20:24; Ezekiel 20:31; Ezekiel 20:39; Ezekiel 21:21; Ezekiel 22:3; Ezekiel 22:4; Ezekiel 23:7; Ezekiel 23:30; Ezekiel 23:37; Ezekiel 23:39; Ezekiel 23:49; Ezekiel 30:13; Ezekiel 33:25; Ezekiel 36:18; Ezekiel 36:25; Ezekiel 37:23; Ezekiel 44:10; Ezekiel 44:12; Hosea 4:12; Hosea 4:17; Hosea 5:11; Hosea 8:4; Hosea 8:5; Hosea 9:10; Hosea 10:5; Hosea 13:2; Hosea 14:8; Amos 5:26; Jonah 2:8; Micah 1:7; Micah 5:13; Nahum 1:14; Habakkuk 2:18; Zephaniah 1:3; Zephaniah 1:4; Zechariah 10:2; Zechariah 13:2; Acts 7:41; Acts 7:43; Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29; Acts 17:16; Acts 21:25; Romans 2:22; 1 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 8:10; 1 Corinthians 10:7; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Corinthians 10:19; 1 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Peter 4:3; 1 John 5:21; Revelation 2:14; Revelation 2:20; Revelation 9:20; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15

    I pray you will place the above prayer by the Holy Fire Ceremony this year (and by the altar throughout this year), Blessed Nazarene Family, intercede for our ancestry and protection, cleanse, deliver our children. I offer you my son, Erich’s, soul to consecrate to the Immaculate Heart and my small business (RF Design, and it’s website http://www.raccoonfacesdesign.com) for your blessing. Thank you for cleansing any bondages against the following scripture passages:

    John 16:7-11; Psalm 80; Psalm 51; Acts 3:19; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Psalm 42:1-2; Ephesians 5:22-6:4; Proverbs 5:15-23; Psalm 127; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Peter 5:8-9; John 8:44; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 timothy 3:16-17; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Romans 13:1; 1 Samuel 15:22; Genesis 1:27; Psalm 139; Galatians 5:20; Proverbs 20:1; Jeremiah 32:17; Mark 10:1-12; Ephesians 5:22-6:4; Exodus 34:6-7; Lamentations 3:21-23; Psalm 18:48, 140:11; Proverbs 28:17; Psalm 7:16; Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 6:27-28; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 1:10-19; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Colossians 2:15; Proverbs 6:17; 1 Timothy 2:2

  • Junelizabeth

    No doubt the so called Holy Fire is a fraud and the Orthodox clergy who perpetuate this lie need to examine their consciences carefully. Where there is charity and love there the God of love abides. I see no charity or love in a Patriarch who refuses to allow other Christians to witness this so called miracle. So one comes to the conclusion that the whole thing is a sham

    • notimportant

      Virgin Mary has been appearing to 6 children in Medjugorje since 1981. Why in Medjugorje and why appearing to 6 catholic children? Only god has the answer. Yet, we, as orthodox, don’t consider these appearances as a fraud. Who are we to decide the way God communicates with ALL of his children? I can only pray that you “open your heart and your eyes and not your mind” (as Jesus told Judas).

      Christos Anesti :) may the light of our lord shine in your hearts and bless you with his love.

      • David Morrison

        No the Virgin Mary has never appeared in Medjugorje…another fraud perpetrated by fakes who just want attention. And I am Catholic.

  • Jim

    In a spirit of Charity, I hope I don’t get too beat up.

    What a pity this argument takes place. If the “Holy Fire” provides a tangible faith builder, Then Enjoy!

    As far as greed, vanity and other less perfect attributed to man kind go, the Orthodox have there share of skeletons as well the west. Churches are Hospitals for sinners and not hotels for Saints. The biggest thing wrong with the churches is they have people, then again, that is why we need more churches. Sound like a paradox?, it does to me also.

    Our Lord does Miracles for the benefit of the Mystical Body of Christ, so I feel it is a pity that the Orthodox churches don’t “broadcast” them, That benefit in a secular world cannot be measured. My Prayer is it isn’t about cash but a reminder were all loved by God and He hasn’t thrown in the towel yet.

    Weather the Holy Fire is Fraud or Real, What a powerful message is such a pagan age. Lets Pray for each other!


  • Joseph

    OK, even if you can explain the HOLYFIRE with phosphorus…how do you explain the HOLY LIGHT ? Surely the Jewish scientists are lurking to expose the christian gleefully. Besides the Israeli guards are searching the tomb as well as the Patriarch.. So please try and explain these FACTS away before you comment.

    • simon

      If these so called Jewish “scientists” are so convinced that there is no hoax going on and this truly is a miracle… then why would he/they not convert to Orthodox Christianity?

      • notimportant

        Miracles have been happening for ages, everywhere and in front of many unbelievers. Yet, not all them believe and convert. The light of Jesus doesn’t get through closed shades…


    Also how do you explain the LIGHTED CANDLE not burning or singing the hand or hair.. Please explain this without bias.
    Blinding LIGHT converted SAINT PAUL and made him Christianity theological Emperor
    Blinding LIGHT converted CONSTANTINE and made him a Christian paving the way for Europes blessing… can you explain these please ?