The tradition of lighting candles in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was inspired by a miracle that happened many centuries ago and has blessed so many lives since. Each year, before the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord, a magnificent and glorious event takes place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to celebrate the miracle of the Lord’s Resurrection. Christians all over the world remember and look forward to this day as it symbolizes and brings to life much of what we truly believe in and hold in our hearts.
On the midday of Holy Saturday, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, together with the deacons, the priests and chief priests enter the Holy Sepulchre. After offering their prayers, a miraculous light comes forth and radiates to those who are present. The Patriarch of Jerusalem lights two candles from the flame that appeared and lights the candles of the other patriarchs waiting outside the Holy Sepulchre. From there the candles of the faithful are lit at the same time.
It was said that the miraculous fire does not burn when touched during the first few minutes of its appearance. The pilgrims would immerse their hands and even their faces on the glowing flame and they will not be injured or burned. This miracle has been happening in the same place since the earliest centuries and many lives have been changed over the years.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a mountain cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and covers it; instead it is put on a lamp stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Lighting candles in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not only our way of connecting with our Heavenly Father, but more so, a way of strengthening and renewing our faith with Him who truly loves us and desires only to offer us salvation. What happened many centuries ago at the Crucifixion is a testament of God’s unconditional love for us that he willed His only Son to suffer the consequences of our sins in order to take us back from the darkness that our sinful lives have brought upon us.
As Christians light the candles at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we are professing our faith; we are receiving the Light of Christ, we are accepting the gift of salvation that the Father offers to us and we come forth and shine that light in our homes and in our communities. The Light that we have received cannot be hidden for it will shine in our very lives as we show to our brothers and sisters the glorious life that awaits each one of us when we spend our lives in obedience to the Father’s will.
The miraculous light that continues to appear and radiate at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Holy Saturdays is God’s wondrous message that the flame of His love will endure and go on until we all have reached our destination, the Home that He has prepared for us from the very beginning of creation. And so as we light our candles, let us remember to spread that light so that others too may see the greatness of God’s love that, they too, may receive the wonderful blessing that is rightfully theirs. Their lives will be changed forever as the Father has done for us, and together we shall praise God for all his wondrous deeds.