The “Holy” Light of Jerusalem (Michael Kalopoulos)

The “Miracle” of the Holy Light of Jerusalem, is a recurring ‘miracle’ happening each year with clockwork precision, in the Holy Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, to the delight of a large congregation of Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Many pilgrims travel to Jerusalem repeatedly for the occasion.

The ‘Miracle’ takes place on Saturday no on preceding Easter Sunday. The substance of the ‘miracle’ is the appearance of a supernatural fire in a crypt, thoroughly searched and secured beforehand to exclude any source of fire. The ‘Miracle’ takes place in the Hands of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, who is ceremoniously searched before entering the crypt. These searches are witnessed by representatives of other creeds, especially of the Armenian Church, who also have certain traditional rights in the specific Church, as well as representatives of local authorities, and the police superintendent of Jerusalem.


The patriarch retires inside the crypt and prays and then appears with the miraculous light, to the ecstasy of the attending crowd. At the same time, fire is reported to appear lighting the candles in and out of the Church spontaneously. Wax torches held by the pilgrims are also sporadically seen to be lighted by ‘divine’ intervention, after smoking for some time. Blue-white lightning is reported to sometimes appear and travel through the air. The miraculous fire lighting the patriarchs’ candle has been reported to be different from normal fire, in that a hand placed in the flame is not burned (at least the hands of the believers, and only for the first 33 minutes after the miracle) To quote from a related religious site: “The Holy Light symbolizes and recalls in a miraculous manner the Resurrection of Christ. It is a god sent miracle through the centuries, from the Light which is Jesus Christ to the world. Science cannot explain this great miracle and this time, it has wisely opted to remain silent and to refrain from expressing even a theoretical conclusion. Anyway, how could science explain an authentic miracle?”

The Atheist Union of Greece have called for the abolition of the transport of the Holy Light from Jerusalem to Athens.
The Atheist Union of Greece have called for the abolition of the transport of the Holy Light from Jerusalem to Athens.

The Holy Light is brought back to Greece with a special flight of the state airline. It is greeted with Honours normally reserved for Foreign Heads of State. This is the most revered ‘miracle’ of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Special flights are used to distribute the Holy Light throughout Greece, so it is made available late Saturday night during the Mass of the Resurrection in many Churches. Returning with the light home, devout Christians burn a cross on the front door beam, use the Holy Light to bring fertility to their infertile beasts, and fruitless trees, use it to fight vermin etc… “For instance, in Korone of Messene people return home from the night mass carrying the Holy Light with them. They use the smoking flame to mark a cross above windows and doors and thus preserve the mark of the Holy Light throughout the year .Then they take the Holy Light to the family altar make the sign of the cross and light the candle. Then they go the animal stalls to mark the beasts, goats, sheep. The oxen, the cows, the donkeys, whatever beast they may keep, they singe the animals (sic) even the chicken.”

How deplorable to see such neo-lithic superstition reign supreme, in the land that gave birth to philosophy and the sciences. However, there have been voices in the past that raised serious doubts about these religious ceremonies. The famous Greek intellectual of the Age of Enlightenment, Adamantios Korais (1748-1833) denounced the ‘Holy Light’ as a fraud and urged the Eastern Orthodox Church to discontinue the practice, arguing that “no true religion is in need of such false miracles”. In his treatise “On the Holy Light of Jerusalem”, Korais was adamant against religious fraud and theurgy. He referred to the recurring ‘miracle’ as ‘machinations of fraudulent priests’ and to the unholy light of Jerusalem as… “a profiteers’ miracle”. With deep sorrow, the Greek sage contemplated in his writings, that “while Greeks are content to have the ‘Holy Light’, the people in Europe of his time are living among people of objective knowledge, surrounded by Academies, and Lyceums, and schools of every kind of art and science. Europeans have open, splendid public libraries, and their print presses buzz with activity daily and without pause”. Taking heart from the courageous stance of the great intellectual, patriot and writer Korais, and enraged from the willful suppression of his treatise on the ‘Holy Light’ that remains an obscure work for most Greek readers to this day, we decided to look carefully into this miracle and the way with which it could be ‘achieved’.

Adamantios Korais
Adamantios Korais

How could the spontaneous appearance of fire be explained as a totally human act, when there appears to be no obvious human intervention? Our research pointed in the direction of use of some self-igniting material, that ignites spontaneously when in contact with the air. An appropriate candidate for such use would appear to be white phosphorus. But how could this spontaneous ignition be delayed in order to take place in the appropriate time? Simply, if phosphorus is dissolved in an appropriate organic solvent, self-ignition is delayed, until the solvent has almost completely evaporated. Repeated experiments showed that the ignition can be delayed for half an hour or more, depending on density of the solution and the solvent employed. We repeatedly demonstrated the technique on live satellite TV in the presence of representatives of the Eastern Orthodox Church, igniting spontaneously a number of candles, to their amazement.


Our research was published as a treatise of 250 pages. It goes a long way to prove that self igniting materials were known in antiquity, as there are several instances recorded of use of such materials in the works of ancient Greek authors; such self-igniting materials are also mentioned in the Bible disguised as ‘miracles’ in the tale of Elias (I Kings 18.21-40) and in the tale of Nehemiah (Septuagint II Maccabees 1.17-23). To those that would argue that such materials were unknown in antiquity we refer them to Strabo who distinguishes two kinds of naphtha: In Babylon (Chaldea) there are two kinds of naphtha springs, a white (colourless, clear ) and a black (crude oil) The white naphtha is the one that ignites with fire. (Strabon Geographica The source for acquisition of crude phosphor in antiquity could have been relatively simple. Indeed a list of materials with a high content in phosphor, possibly used in its acquisition, directly takes us into the realm of alchemy and magic. Indeed, we are talking about black magic because the source for phosphorus is incinerated bones, excrement and urine! Precisely such a recipe for a methodical incineration of bones in a pot can be found, where else but… in the Bible:

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Set on a pot, set it on, and also pour water into it: Gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones. Take the choice of the flock, and burn also the bones under it, and make it boil well, and let them see the bones of it therein…Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned. Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed.” [Ezekiel 24.3-11]

Greek Fire
Greek Fire

It appears that some of the early alchemists really came up with the recipe for the real “philosopher’s stone” that could turn commonplace filth and human credulity into gold… and the example of the “Holy Light” is ample proof of that. The call of the Ancient Greeks was: “Remember to Doubt!” (*Memniso Apistein, a quote of Epicharmus mentioned by Lucianus in Hermotimus). Such scepticism can never coexist with “believeth all things” (1 Corinthians 13.7) of the Christian dogma. The death-centered Christian worship with its oriental fixation in the phantasies of a life after death are incompatible with the spontaneous Greek worship of our ephemeral life. Of course our supposed soul-saviours are too busy continuously describing the coming end of the world with the bleakest colours- how could they find some time for science, research of nature and plain logic? Yes, for us the only Holy Light is the light of Reason and continuous query.

Hand siphon for Greek fire (medieval illumination detail)
Hand siphon for Greek fire (medieval illumination detail)

In 1995, just a few days before the locum tenens of the Patriarchal throne, Metropolitan Cornelius of Petra, received the Holy Fire in the place of patriarch Irenaeus, he declared in a television interview that the holy fire is a natural light, lit by the patriarch from the Sanctuary Lamp! And then came the big shock: “The miracle is the prayer that hallows the light”. (The light which supposedely comes from heaven!!)

(Greek, 5:16-5:40, 7:03-7:15).

Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem has described the process of the coming down of the fire as follows:

I find my way through the darkness towards the inner chamber in which I fall on my knees. Here I say certain prayers that have been handed down to us through the centuries and, having said them, I wait. Sometimes I may wait a few minutes, but normally the miracle happens immediately after I have said the prayers. From the core of the very stone on which Jesus lay an indefinable light pours forth. It usually has a blue tint, but the color may change and take many different hues. It cannot be described in human terms. The light rises out of the stone as mist may rise out of a lake it almost looks as if the stone is covered by a moist cloud, but it is light. This light each year behaves differently. Sometimes it covers just the stone, while other times it gives light to the whole sepulchre, so that people who stand outside the tomb and look into it will see it filled with light. The light does not burn. I have never had my beard burnt in all the 16 years I have been Patriarch in Jerusalem and have received the Holy Fire. The light is of a different consistency than normal fire that burns in an oil lamp.

At a certain point the light rises and forms a column in which the fire is of a different nature, so that I am able to light my candles from it. When I thus have received the flame on my candles, I go out and give the fire first to the Armenian Patriarch and then to the Coptic. Hereafter I give the flame to all people present in the Church.

So called “Miracle of the holy fire – holy light” is a fraud. It is explained by Greek scientist live on Greek TV. Video is in Greek language but it is enough to watch his actions. He put a candle in white phosphorus and after a while candle will ignite spontaneously.

It is scientifically explained, so there are no “god’s miracle”. Orthodox priests claims it is a miracle of “holy fire” or “holy light” is nothing but a fraud, hoax, cheat.

Proposed reconstruction of the Greek fire mechanism by Haldon and Byrne
Proposed reconstruction of the Greek fire mechanism by Haldon and Byrne

1 (1)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s