The Miracle of the Descent of the Holy Fire in the Holy Sepulcher was known since the ancient times. The Holy Fire or the Holy Light is the fire, carried out of the Holy Sepulcher each year during the holding of the special service on the Holy Saturday, at the eve of Easter in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. Carrying out the Holy Light symbolizes the way of the Holy Light out of the Sepulcher, that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Commanding the Fire to go out, the Lord shows His Resurrection.
The Descended Fire has a unique feature: it does not burn in the first few minutes. The earliest written evidence witnessing the phenomenon of the Holy Fire at the Holy Sepulcher belongs to the IV century AD.
Thousands of pilgrims on the eve of the Great Easter holiday come to the Holy Land in Jerusalem, to touch the holy places and to witness the miracle of miracles. Those who were lucky enough to be in the Holy Sepulchre that day, are holding a bunch of 33 candles and with bated breath are waiting for the miracle, fervently praying and reverently waiting for the Descent of the Holy Fire.
Why these 33 candles from Jerusalem are so remarkable? Why there are exactly 33 candles? And why believers keep such awe and reverence? When the time for the special worship comes held on the Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, to the cave of the Holy Sepulcher a great lamp and candles are brought.
Greek patriarch, in the cave of the Holy Sepulcher, Armenian Archimandrite in the aisle of Angel, and all the monks and the people who have settled around the Edicule on the Atrium square in front of the Holy Sepulcher, start praying. After a while the long-awaited Holy Fire Descends. From this fire the Greek Patriarch and the Armenian Archimandrite light candles and torches, and bring them to the windows of Edicule. After that the Fire is lighted by the guards, and the Holy Light spreads rapidly around the temple, as all people in the temple tend to join this celebration with their 33 candles to rejoice the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each pilgrim tryes to light his 33 candles with those of the Patriarch, as he is blessing all people in the Temple.
Bundle or "Jerusalem torch" consists of 33 candles. The number of candles is equal to the number of years of the earthly life of our Savior - Jesus Christ. Candles are closely connected to each other, representing a single large candle or torch. As they have been lighted by the Holy fire, they will burn with the same Holy Fire in future and other candles can be lighted with it, so every believer can save the Holy Fire in his house.
Many people after buying these candles and singeing them with the Holy Fire, doesn’t know how to use them not disturbing their sanctity. Some people say that it is forbidden to separate the candles and if you want to light other candles with it, you should light all torch. If someone wants to present Jerusalem candles as a gift, it is also necessary to give all 33 candles without separating them. Others say that it does not matter and you can give even one candle to your beloved people or present it to the believers in the temple the Orthodox holidays. We think that each point of view is correct, as it is not so important how you will use Jerusalem candles in your ordinary life. If you treat the candles with reverence and faith, they will certainly help you to feel the grace of God. You can present these candles to all people who you love. It is a precious gift to all faithful Orthodox people. The candles can be lit throughout the year except Good Friday of the Holy Week. At home you can light the whole torch and then light a candle from it and after that extinguish the flame with your hand or any vessel, not snuffing out. In such a way you can keep the Holy Fire in your house for a long time. Candles are usually lit during the morning and evening prayers, and even in joyful, sad or difficult life moments. For all pilgrims who visited the Holy Sepulcher, these candles are the symbol of precious memory of witnessing the miraculous Descending of the Holy Fire. And for believers who have not yet had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land, but who were lucky enough to receive the candles as a gift, it is an opportunity to touch the shrine and feel the grace of God.
Therefore, you can present 33 Jerusalem candles to your beloved people, friends and relatives so that they can feel the wonderful phenomenon of Descending of the Holy Fire. With these present your friends and relatives can gain powers, strengthen faith. Rejoice and feel the goodness of the Lord.