Пасхальный Благодатный огонь / The Easter Holy Fire

Russian language practice from the contemporary Russian media / holy fire in Jerusalem

Audio content: Orthodox believers discussing their experiences and feelings as they meet the Easter “Holy Fire” at a Moscow airport
Visual content: Liturgical candle lighting and lanterns

Easter in the Eastern Orthodox Church doesn’t arrive until May 1 this year. (The date is calculated according to the phases of the moon, and also tends to fall later in the year because the Orthodox Church operates on the Julian calendar.) That means that Orthodox believers are still in the middle of the Великий пост (Great Fast or Lent), the 40-day period that involves the denial of certain worldly pleasures in preparation for the joyous celebration of the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.

One event that Orthodox believers can look forward to is the yearly arrival of the “Благодатный огонь.” This phrase can be translated as “Holy Fire” but actually indicates something along the lines of “the fire that provides abundant blessings.” This fire appears on the evening of Holy Saturday, the night before Easter, at the храм Гроба Господня (Church of the Lord’s Tomb) in Jerusalem. This church is located at the site where Jesus is thought to have been buried after his crucifixion and where he subsequently rose from the dead. Many believers assert that the fire arises miraculously each year, although there has long been disagreement on this point even among members of the Church. In any case, the fire is distributed from the inner sanctum out to the worshipers in the church; it is also transported on special airline flights from Jerusalem to multiple centers of Orthodox belief around the world.

In the below videos we see Russian Orthodox believers gathered at Vnukovo airport in Moscow to hail the arrival of the Holy Fire on Holy Saturday in 2013. They have brought their own candles and lanterns which they light from the holy fire; many of them plan to transport the fire to their local churches just in time for Easter Vigil services. The main lantern containing the Holy Fire will be brought to Russia’s most prominent church, the храм Христа Спасителя (Cathedral of Christ the Savior) in central Moscow, where it will be received by Patriarch Kirill. Scroll down to the end of the post for English translations.

Here’s a nice photo gallery of the scene at the church in Jerusalem.

And for another view of Easter celebrations in contemporary Russia, see this nice photo gallery from SRAS’s Facebook page, showing the blessing of eggs and kulich at a small church.

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Link to full video from РИА Новости


Федор Зверев: Мне всё-таки хочется увидеть такой, не который в церкви.

Ангелина Прохорова: Мы уже третий раз приезжаем, всегда встречаем благодатный огонь и привозим его в свой храм в Пучково. Да, с благословением привозим его в свой храм к началу службы Пасхальной. Нас все ждут.



Link to full video from РИА Новости


Елена Прохорова: Мы целый день отслеживали, сейчас отслеживали, как летит самолет. Вот, в душе молились, чтобы все было хорошо, без всяких приключений.

Елизавета Бунюкова: Очень волнующе. Очень долго стояли, ждали и наконец дождались. Два часа стояли.

Екатерина Гордик: Я не знаю, как выразить, просто. Радость, просто, в душе, когда огонь встречаешь.


Ведущая: Среди ожидавших были Москвичи и те, кто приехал в столицу из других городов с миссией — доставить частицу благодатного огня в свой храм.

Галина Новикова:  Кимрский район, Тверская область, село Малое Василево. Храм святой Троицы. В том году нам удалось туда довезти благодатный огонь. Но если Господь допустит, то и в этом году у нас получится. Мы будем стараться, машина уже ждет, и мы с мужем сейчас туда отправляемся.

Ведущая: Алексей Парамонов, генеральный консул России в Милане, прилетел в Москву совсем ненадолго — встретить благодатный огонь на русской земле для того, чтобы отвезти его в Италию.

Алексей Парамонов, генеральный консул России в Милане: Все пути, православные, я бы сказал, пути, в Европу идут через Москву. Благодатный огонь из Иерусалима доставляется в Европу, в частности в Милан, и другие города Италии, откуда он последует непосредственно через Москву.

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Video one


Fyodor Zveriev: After all, I wanted to see one like this, not the one in the church.

Angelina Prokhorova: This is already the third time that we are coming [here]. We always meet the Holy Fire and take it to our church in Puchkovo. Yes, with reverence we take it to our church [in time] for the start of the Easter service. Everyone is waiting for us.

Video two


Elena Prokhorova: We were tracking it all day, just now we were tracking how the plane was flying. We were praying in our souls that everything would be good, without any adventures.

Elizaveta Buniiukova: Very exciting. We stood a very long time, were waiting, and finally what we were waiting for arrived. We stood for two hours.

Ekaterina Gordik: I just don’t know how to express it. It’s just, joy, in the soul, when you meet [receive, welcome] the fire.


Anchor: Among those waiting were Muscovians and those who had driven to the capital from other cities with the mission to deliver a portion of the Holy Fire to their church.

Galina Novikova: Kimrsky district, Tver province, the village of Maloe Vasilyovo. The Church of the Holy Trinity. In that year [i.e. last year] we were successful in bringing the Holy Fire there. If the Lord allows, then in this year as well it will work out for us. We will make an effort. The car is already waiting and my husband and I will set out for there momentarily.

Anchor: Aleksei Paramanov, the general consul of Russia in Milan, flew to Moscow for an absolutely short stay — to meet the Holy Fire on Russian soil in order to take it to Italy.

Aleksei Paramanov, general consul of Russia in Milan: All paths, all the paths of Orthodoxy, I would say, go to Europe through Moscow. The Holy Fire is delivered to Europe — in particular to Milan, and to other cities of Italy — from Jerusalem, from where it takes its path directly through Moscow.


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