During the annual ceremony dating back at least 1,200 years, top Eastern Orthodox clerics enter the Edicule, the small chamber marking the site of Jesus’s tomb.
They then emerge to reveal candles said to be miraculously lit with “holy fire” as a message to the faithful from heaven. The details of the flame’s source are a closely guarded secret.
Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter on Sunday.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the rest of the Old City lies in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel from its Jordanian occupiers in the Six Day War of 1967 and later annexed by Israel.
The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the church.
Christians made up more than 18 percent of the population of the Holy Land when Israel was founded in 1948, but now form less than two percent, mostly Orthodox.
Image: Christian Orthodox worshippers light their candles from theHoly Fireas they gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalems Old City on April 27, 2019 during the Orthodox Easter. (THOMAS COEX / AFP)