On February 12 Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called and the Centre of National Glory of Russia, and Vladimir Bushuyev, Director of the Foundation, visited the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, according to the press service of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission.
Archimandrite Alexander (Yelissov), the head of the REM, welcomed the guests and offered them to try some pancakes as it was the time of Pancake Week.
During the meeting they discussed the collaboration with the Mission related to the online broadcasting of the Holy Fire service organized by NTV channel from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and regarding the annual action called “Pray for Peace for Jerusalem”.
Hieromonk Dometian (Markaryan), Deputy Head of the REM, took part in the meeting.
Every year the delegation of the Foundation headed to Jerusalem includes public and state officials, the clergy, workers of cultural sphere, journalists and businessmen. It’s about 100 people altogether.
On the Great Saturday members of the Foundation’s delegation take part in the litany (a liturgical ordinance) for the Holy Fire.
The Edicule is constructed inside the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Jerusalem: it is a small church with the Holy Sepulchre inside. On the Great Saturday Israeli policemen carry out a thorough inspection inside the Edicule.
A big oil lamp is placed inside the Edicule along with 33 candles to represent the number of years the Saviour lived his earthly life. After that everybody leaves the Edicule, the door is sealed with a large piece of wax which ministers mark with their seals and cover with a red ribbon.
Some time later young Orthodox Arabs enter the Church. They are rather loud filling the entire Church with their shouting and proclaiming the following: “There is no Faith but Orthodox Faith, and Christ is the True Lord!” Such vivid expression of religious views by the Arabian youth always seems unusual for those who got used to reverend peace and quiet Orthodox churches are filled with.
At midday Patriarch of Jerusalem accompanied by designated persons unseal the Edicule and enter inside. Patriarch starts praying to the Lord asking for the Descent of the Holy Fire.
The Patriarch’s prayer takes from 5 minutes to several hours. It is impossible to describe the feelings people in the Church experience when the doors to the Edicule are finally opened and there appears Patriarch with lit candles. He blesses everybody and hands out the Holy Fire.
As soon as the Holy Fire has descended in the Edicule it is being handed from a candle to a candle – the entire Church of the Resurrection of Christ is filled with the divine light. Miraculously there has never been any single case of dangerous ignition let alone any fire outbreak inside this small covert place filled with the open flames.
The same evening at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour just before the Easter Service Vladimir Yakunin hands over the oil lamp with the Holy Fire to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. President and Prime Minister of the Russian Federation take part in the all-night vigil.
Oil lamps with the Holy Fire are delivered to all the eparchies of the Russian Orthodox Church from Kaliningrad to Sakhalin, to near and far-abroad countries. In 2009 the Fire was delivered for Russian polar explorers to Barneo station which is drifting on the territory of North Pole.
In 2017 it was the first time when the Holy Fire was delivered to eparchies of the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA.
Every year the Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called and NTV channel organize the online broadcasting of the Descent of the Holy Fire. In 2015 everybody got the opportunity to access a dedicated web site and see the delivery of the Holy Fire from Moscow to Russian regions and to near and far-abroad countries in online mode.