Priest Samuel Aghoyan representing the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem recently had an argument with a representative of the Coptic Church on the issue of how the Holy Fire appears. The incident occurred while shooting a report for Hadashot 2 news bulletin produced by Israel Television News Company.
For more than 1,200 years the ritual of the Holy Fire has been performed in Jerusalem every Easter, with a flame “miraculously” appearing at the darkened tomb of Jesus to symbolize the Resurrection.
Aghoyan said he has seen three times how the patriarchs lit the bundles of wax candles from an oil lamp inside the empty tomb, adding that there was nothing mysterious about the Holy Fire.
“God works miracles, but not for the amusement of people,” said the priest.
This statement angered a Coptic clergyman who demanded to stop the shooting.
“The fire descends from the sky and the patriarch takes it out and shares with others,” he claimed.
Aghoyan said in response that the Copts do not attend the Holy Fire ceremony.
In past centuries, the Holy Fire was carried from Jerusalem all through the Orthodox world – by steamer to Odessa on the Black Sea to light the icon lamps of Russia, on mules to Damascus in the steps of St Paul, and by camel caravan to the churches of the Coptic Christians of Egypt.