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This Easter is different: WATCH Holy Fire descend in Jerusalem amid coronavirus lockdown

As Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter this weekend, the descent of the Holy Fire – a crucial part of the rituals – occurred in Jerusalem without the usual crowds of pilgrims.

The ceremony in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre was performed by a handful of Orthodox clerics wearing face masks. The descent of the Holy Fire is a miracle believed by Orthodox Christians to occur every year on Great Saturday.

The fire is then taken to Greece, Russia, and other countries where the church has a large presence.

The usual large, iconic crowds of the faithful – both local Christians and pilgrims from all over the world – that normally attend the ceremony were missing due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Orthodox Easter celebrations around the world have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This Easter is different. We will not go to our villages, we will not barbeque in our yards, we will not go to our churches,” said Stelios Petsas, government spokesperson for Greece, one of the largest Orthodox Christian-majority nations.

And of course, we will not gather in the homes of relatives and friends. For us to continue being together, this year we stay apart.

Whether one believes in the Holy Fire miracle or not, its symbolism is indeed very special amid the pandemic – the emergence of the Fire means that the Doomsday has not yet come.

Header: (L) © Reuters / Ammar Awad; (R) © Reuters / Amir Cohen