Thousands gather for Holy Fire ceremony in Jerusalem

Christian pilgrims light candles during the Holy Fire ceremony in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus Christ, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Jerusalem. Thousands of Christians have gathered in Jerusalem for the ancient fire ceremony that celebrates Jesus' resurrection. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of Christians have gathered in Jerusalem for an ancient fire ceremony that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

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.

Christians will celebrate Easter on Sunday.

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