Jerusalem, March 11, 2020
Every year, thousands of Orthodox faithful from around the world flock to Jerusalem to celebrate Holy Week and Pascha. Especially beloved is the service of the descent of the Holy Fire on Holy Saturday, in which the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem enters the Lord’s Tomb until fire descends from Heaven and lights his candles and is then spread to all the faithful.
However, as Israeli authorities clamp down on public gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Holy Fire ceremony could be in jeopardy.
According to its own source in Church circles in Jerusalem, RIA-Novosti reports that Israeli police were to hold a meeting yesterday dedicated to the organization of the Holy Fire ceremony, but the meeting was canceled due to coronavirus fears.
According to the source, the entire Holy Fire service could be banned.
However, no decision has been made yet, Israeli police informed RIA-Novosti. “According to the existing rules, events with 5,000 or more participants have been canceled. These restrictions are in effect until March 23, and we will see what happens after that,” police spokesman Michael Zingerman said. The Health Ministry has since expanded its restrictions, banning all community events with 2,000 or more people.
Holy Saturday falls on April 18 this year.
OrthoChristian previously reported that the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was closed due to cases of coronavirus at a nearby hotel.
According to the Jerusalem Post, 76 Israeli citizens have been infected with the coronavirus as of today, with one in serious condition, and three already recovered.