IN PHOTOS: Thousands Attend Holy Fire Ceremony in Jerusalem

Christians converge on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to carry candles lit by holy fire.

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Christian Orthodox worshippers hold up candles lit from the "Holy Fire" as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 30, 2016.
Christian Orthodox worshippers hold up candles lit from the "Holy Fire" as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 30, 2016.Credit: Thomas Coex, AFP

Thousands of Christians have gathered in Jerusalem for an ancient fire ceremony that celebrates Jesus' resurrection.

In a ritual dating back at least 1,200 years, they crowded Saturday into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

During the annual ceremony, top Eastern Orthodox clerics enter the Edicule, the small chamber marking the site of Jesus' 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.

Roman Catholics and Protestants marked Easter in March, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter this week using the older Julian calendar.

Christian Orthodox worshippers hold candles lit from the "Holy Fire" as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 30, 2016.Credit: Gali Tibbon, AFP
Christian Orthodox worshippers hold up candles lit from the "Holy Fire" as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 30, 2016.Credit: Thomas Coex, AFP
A boy holds candles as he takes part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, April 30, 2016.Credit: Amir Cohen, Reuters
Christian Orthodox pilgrims raise their hands as a ray of light comes through during the "Holy Fire" Orthodox Easter procession in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on April 30, 2016.Credit: Gali Tibbon, AFP
A Christian worshipper holds a candle as she takes part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, April 30, 2016.Credit: Amir Cohen, Reuters
Christian Orthodox worshippers dance and pray around the Tomb of Jesus as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 30, 2016.Credit: Thomas Coex, AFP
A Christian Orthodox worshipper holds candles lit from the "Holy Fire" as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 30, 2016.Credit: Gali Tibbon, AFP
Christian Orthodox worshippers hold candles lit from the "Holy Fire" as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 30, 2016.Credit: Gali Tibbon, AFP
Worshippers hold candles as they take part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, April 30, 2016.Credit: Ammar Awad, Reuters
A Greek orthodox priest holds candles as thousands of Christian Orthodox worshippers gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 30, 2016.Credit: Thomas Coex, AFP
Christian Orthodox worshippers hold candles lit from the "Holy Fire" as thousands gather in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on April 30, 2016.Credit: Gali Tibbon, AFP

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