The Holy Light: Legend or Reality? (Fr. George Tetsis, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, 2006)

NOTE: The following article is taken from the newspaper Vema, April 21, 2006. The article is followed by quotes from contemporary Greek Orthodox clergymen and theologians who openly admit that the Sleepless Lantern (i.e. the sanctuary oil lamp, which is supposed to be extinguished on Good Saturday) is in fact left lit! These quotes are followed by an English translation of the Patriarch’s Prayer.

  • “The Patriarch doesn’t pray to conduct the miracle.”
  • “The Holy Light from heaven is nothing but a legend.”
  • “The Patriarch lights his candle from the unsleeping oil lamp.”

The forthcoming feast of Pascha brought the issue of the Holy Light’s touch back to the limelight…

The happenings in Jerusalem and the risk of politicizing a basic liturgical act of our faith now gives the Church a unique opportunity to lift the veil of mystery that covers the Holy Light’s touch to this day; to enlighten the faithful regarding the theological background and symbolism of this beautiful an d delightful ceremony.

I will explain myself. For centuries now, there has been a widespread conviction among the pious, yet theologically and liturgically uneducated, orthodox faithful who search for “miracles” to fill a spiritual void: during the ceremony, the Holy Light descends miraculously “from heaven” to light the Patriarch’s candle.

However, as the eminent professor Constantine Kalokyres relates in his erudite book, The Architectural Complex of the Temple of the Resurrection in Jerusalem and the Subject of the Holy Light, concerns a legend that has been cultivated in the Holy Land after the Crusaders’ invasion and within the framework of the Orthodox-Latin-Armenian conflict in which each one claimed the privilege of “receiving the eternal light from heaven” for themselves.

The prayer that the Patriarch offers inside the Holy Sepulcher is clear and not open to any misinterpretation. The Patriarch does not pray to conduct the miracle. He simply “recalls” Christ’s sacrifice and Resurrection on the 3rd day and addresses Him, saying: “We piously take from the light that diligently and eternally burns on Your light-bearing Sepulcher, we spread it among those who believe in You, who are the true light, and we pray and plead with You, oh Holiest Despota, so that You will elevate [the light] into a gift of sanctification and fill it with Your divine grace…” This means that the Patriarch lights the candle from the unsleeping oil lamp located in the Holy Sepulcher. Every Patriarch and cleric does precisely that on the day of Pascha when he takes Christ’s Light from the unsleeping oil lamp located upon the Holy Table symbolizing the Lord’s Tomb.

However, the mystery that has been cultivated around the Holy Light ritual and the vulgar perceptions about it nowadays contributed to the appropriation and exploitation of this highly symbolic and compunctionate liturgical practice of our Church from external religious circles. The reason for the mockery of the Holy Light’s organized air transportation to Greece—escorted by governmental actors, honorary detachments, lightly-armed infantrymen, and boy scouts (and, of course, TV crews!)—is the Modern Greek celebrates “the authentic Greek Pascha.” As if our ancestors did not celebrate Christ’s Resurrection before the airplane was invented! Or, as if the Orthodox from the ends of the earth didn’t celebrate the Lord’s Pascha since the Olympic didn’t “fly” in their countries!


Protpresbyter George Metallinos

Fr. George publicly admitted his reservations about the Holy Light phenomenon on [Greek] national television: “When a specific Patriarch has faith and the grace of God, then the miracle takes place. When faith is lacking, the lamp may be used…” Of course, if the Patriarch can use the sanctuary lamp in case he’s not worthy, that means it has not been extinguished! Fr. George was severely criticized after this revelation.

In his book, Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, Fr. George writes that the key to understanding the ceremony and the nature of the light (“natural or supernatural”) we must see what the prayer says and the unforced conclusion is that the light is lit in a perfectly natural manner, its purpose is purely symbolic and its sanctity is derived from the fact that it comes from the Holy Sepulchre!

In the prayer recited by the Patriarch, “[…] there is not even a mention (not even a hint) about an immaterial light descending from above at that moment, but it is implied that the light is only natural and is lit in memory of the Risen Christ” (p. 33).

Fr. George distanced himself from the logic of the purposeful cover-up by the Church, characteristically stating that he prefers ‘the atheists’ who downright reject any possibility of a miracle, concerning the Holy Light to the concealment of the truth, […] for any reason. A truth indirectly confessed by the church through the prayer read during the Good Saturday ceremony.


Constantine Kalokyris

In his book, The Architectural Complex of the Temple of the Resurrection in Jerusalem and the Subject of the Holy Light, Constantine quotes and analyzes the Patriarch’s prayer in depth. He reaches the same conclusion that Fr. George Metallinos himself accepted in his 2001 study; i.e., that the light is lit in a perfectly natural manner, its purpose is purely symbolic and its sanctity is derived from the fact that it comes from the Holy Sepulcher!

Το αρχιτεκτονικό συγκρότημα τού Ναού της Αναστάσεως Ιεροσολύμων και το θέμα του Αγίου Φωτός

As Mr. Kalokyres notes “the prayer is very illuminating.” Indeed, there is no mention of a miraculously appearing light, but “it is implied that the light is natural and lit in remembrance of the Risen Christ, the only true light of the World.” So the Patriarch himself produces the light, in remembrance of that miracle, symbolically reproducing Christ’s Theophany. “And the Prayer […] goes on to explain where the light used to light the candles and then passed on to the faithful comes from. And the place is the Holy Sepulcher and the source of the light, which the Patriarch piously receives, is the holy lantern that CONTINUOUSLY burns and is always kept lit there.”

Completing his analysis, Mr. Kalokyres particularly stresses the word “elevate” (ἀναδείξῃς) which “clearly states that the light (not only isn’t being sent down from heaven, but) hasn’t yet been turned into a special ‘gift of sanctification’ […] However, if the light had been sent from heaven, then the Patriarch wouldn’t be asking for it to be elevated. And how will this elevation become possible? The prayer explains it: Through the grace of the Holy Sepulcher.”

In support of his interpretation Mr. Kalokyres points to the blessings of the Great Sanctification of the Waters during Theophany (which prays for the water to become ‘an apotropaic gift of sanctification’ (‘‘ὕδωρ ἁγιασμοῦ δῶρον καί … ἀναδειχθῆναι αὐτό ἀποτρόπαιον…”), and the transubstantiation prayer offered during the St. Basil’s Eucharist [the priest requests that God ‘bless, sanctify and elevate’ (‘‘εὐλογῆσαι, ἁγιάσαι και ἀναδεῖξαι”) the Holy Gifts. In both these prayers we have ‘sanctification’ and ‘elevation,’ just like in the Holy Light prayer.

On the matter of the body search that the Patriarch is (supposedly) subjected to, Mr. Kalokyres says that it is “a legend, the product of the lower, pious naivety of the people […] which degrades [the Patriarch’s] honest and flawless behavior and renders him as an accomplice to the production of a false miracle […].” For, “the removal of the vestments and his appearance with the sticharion alone is part of this ceremony of the Church. The process is meant to signify that the Patriarch, expressing humility and deep piety, before even approaching and crossing into the Most Holy Inner Sanctum is disrobed of all vestments that reveal his rank as a bishop” remaining with “the sticharium alone (the simplest and common vestment of all ranks of the clergy)!” There is a large gap between the process of voluntarily disrobing of all external vestments and an ‘exhaustive body search!’

Constantine Kalokyres

Mr. Kalokyres  gently ‘chastises’ the Church for its choice to “silently bypass the underlying religious enthusiasm and holy fervor” of the faithful (“perhaps not willing to shake the beliefs of the simple folk”). In the end he declares the Church free of any responsibility, since “the Church of Jerusalem has officially, with a special ceremony (i.e. the special prayer) expressed the whole truth about the Holy Light and its nature.” (Κ. Δ. Καλοκύρης, Το αρχιτεκτονικό συγκρότημα τού Ναού της Αναστάσεως Ιεροσολύμων και το θέμα του Αγίου Φωτός, University Studio Press, 1999, pp.164-165; 218-220)

Demetrios Kokoris

Even though this theologian clearly wrote in his book, The Holy Light (Άγιο Φως), that all flames are extinguished, during a talk show on Good Thursday he repeatedly claimed that there is a flame in the Chamber, but it just is not used!

Cornelius, Metropolitan of Petra, twice the locum tenens of the Jerusalem Patriarchal Throne

“The prayers have the power to sanctify the natural light and here we’re speaking about a natural light. But the prayers that are read by the Patriarch also consecrate the natural light and therefore it has the grace of the holy light. The invocation or prayer of the priest is the miracle and the light is sanctified. It is the natural light that is lit from the sleepless oil lamp which is kept in the sacristy of the Church of the Resurrection” Watch the 6:50 mark of the following video:

One of the biggest religious lies is—as it seems—the ‘miracle’ of the Holy Light, which every Pascha ‘miraculously’ illuminates the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem. I. Kardasis, a correspondent of the newspaper “Orthodox Press” (01/05/25), wrote on the subject of ‘Holy Fire’ and raised major questions that should be asked and answered by every sincere Christian. Let us pay attention to what he writes about the non-miraculous elements of the ‘Holy Fire’:

  1. On Great Wednesday (04.11.2001), Metropolitan Cornelius was interviewed about the Holy Fire on the “Mega” channel show “Grey Zones.” If the four of us heard and understood well, the above Prelate, who will be given the Holy Light in three days, said among other things, the following:
  2. a) The Patriarch divests himself of every stole and remains in his white esoraso not to check for any flammable materials, but to remain in the white robe symbolizing the angels’ robe.
  3. b) The Patriarch enters the Tomb with candle and prays saying a special prayer and lights up the Light from the light Sleepless Oil Lamp. The natural light of the oil lamp is transformed into Holy Light with this special prayer. So natural light is sanctified and transformed into the Holy Light. Then he exits the tomb and delivers the Holy Light to the crowd in the Holy Church and thereby to the whole world. (…)

MEGA Channel on 11/4/2001


Makarios III (Mouskos), Archbishop of Cyprus (1950-1977)

“These days we host the sacred archbishopric echelon by the metropolitans from the Jerusalem Patriarchate. One night after supper, Archbishop Makarios proposed we take our coffee in the great Synodicon. So we were discussing various issues there. Makarios asked the visiting Metropolitans: ‘Holy brothers, now that you’re here, it is an opportunity for you to solve a question I have.’ They told him, ‘we are at your disposal Makarios if we can, why not’. And Makarios said to them: ‘Holy brothers, please tell me what happens with the miracle of the Holy Fire. Is it indeed a miracle?’

“The Metropolitans from Jerusalem smirked and told him: ‘Makarios, we’re fooling the people, it is our shame to fool you also.’ Makarios said: ‘Are you saying that it’s not a miracle?’ They replied, ‘No, it is not a miracle!’ Makarios asked, ‘Well, what is it, then?’ They responded, ‘Beatitude, it is a ceremony that takes place every Great Saturday in the Church of the Resurrection.’ Makarios aksed them: ‘Why don’t you tell people the truth?’ And they replied: ‘Beatitude who would dare to tell the truth to the people? They would lynch us!’ This was the Archpriest’s story” (Told by a Cypriot Hieromonk; see video below)

Benedict, Patriarch of Jersualem (1957-1980)

“Once the pilgrim sets foot in Jerusalem, there is a clique, a gang, which is authorized by the Patriarchate to receive pilgrims upon their arrival. Indeed, they have a way to pester, daze, and blind them, to se and not to see…The Patriarchate’s clappers tell them, ‘Now we will give you the so-called indulgence…and they pay a pound!’ All these things occurred under Patriarch Benedict.” (Told by Haralmabos Katenidis, Archdeacon of the Jerusalem Patriarchate)

“Absolution Certificate” of Patriarch Benedict of Jerusalem, issued in 1957.

Haralmabos Katenidis, Archdeacon of the Jerusalem Patriarchate

In a video documentary interview with ecclesiastical writer, Stylianos Charlampakis, the Archdeacon reveals the Holy Light fraud! (September 7, 1965)
“Details about the so-called miracle of the holy light cannot be communicated because of scandal. But happily, since you asked me, I will tell you in summary how the ceremony happens and how you receive the ‘holy’ light. On Great Friday, after the procession of the Epitaph around the Holy Sepulchre, the Patriarch puts the Epitaph on the Tomb. After this, they extinguish all the oil lamps inside and outside the Tomb. The following day, Great Saturday, the Sacristan carries a special lit oil lamp—veiled with silver cover—which is placed in the Holy Sepulchre. Then the governor of Jerusalem seals the Sepulchre. While all the lights and oil lamps are always extinguished, the special oil lamp within the tomb remains lit. At the 10th hour, after the relative litanies around the Holy Sepulchre during which they chant the “O Joyous Light” (φως ιλαρόν), the gates of the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre are opened and the people enter. Simultaneously, the gate of the Kouvouklion where the tomb is located opens and the Patriarch enters, after typically he removes his sacerdotal vestments and remains only with sticharion. After a relative typical prayer, he takes the ‘holy’ light, certainly not miraculously, to be honest, but he lights his torch from the lit special oil lamp that the sacristan had previously transferred. This, in short, is the procedure for the ‘holy’ light.”

NOTE: There is also a second way to get this fake light. Spread the Tomb plate with phosphorus the day before and then the Patriarch rubs the plate with cotton and the light emerges.

Archbishop Nikeforos Theotokes

In 1880, the Archbishop stated that the light doesn’t miraculously descend from heaven, but is rather lit by the Patriarch and then distributed sanctified to the faithful, with the church being unable to cure ‘the people’s vulgar perception’ (Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, pp. 29-30)

“The Patriarch produces fire over the Life-giving Sepulchre by striking a flint”

Spyros Karatheodoris

In his unpublished work, Objection (Αντίρρησις 1832-1836),  Spyros criticizes Koraes for his polemic against the Jerusalem Patriarchs but leaves no margin for misinterpretation on the matter of the ‘Holy Light:’

  • “[…]it became customary to ignite light over the Holy Sepulchre and from that other festive lights[…]””
  • Concerning the Holy Light of Jerusalem, none of the patriarchs, bishops, priests and those with [decent] ecclesiastical background believe it to be miraculous […]”
  • “But why do they call it ‘Holy Light’? Yes! Holy Light! Because it is lit on the Holy Sepulchre and the faithful piously receive it, but this piety has degenerated into superstition, because of the ignorance of the many, and made stronger amongst the naivest of our brothers the belief, which the papal priests always spread, that the light is lit miraculously.”
  • “Therefore, the light is blessed for no other reason than for the fact that it is lit on the Lord’s Sepulchre, on the day the great mystery of the resurrection transpired […]”

(Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, pp.350-351)

Archimandrite Prokopios Dendrinos of Mount Athos

In his unpublished treatise On the Holy Light (Τα περί του Αγίου φωτός) [ca. 1833], Fr. Prokopios  heavily criticizes all the secrecy surrounding the ‘miracle,’ calling it directly suspicious and misleading. He even directs an incredible challenge to the Fraternity of the Holy Sepulcher:

“Let them leave the lanterns of the Temple unprepared, without oil and wicks, the Chamber doors open, so anyone can see the plaque over the tomb, so everything is visible, as was the case with prophet Elijah. Let the doormen step away, or even better, conduct a diligent search of the Tomb and clean the entire plaque with clear water and then pour an entire amphorae over it. Have them even restrict entry even to the representative of the Patriarch from Good Thursday morning till Sunday morning. And then let the “light-producer” enter and receive the Light! All this secrecy is suspicious and is not meant to prevent the introduction of man-made light -since this is impossible- but so that the preparations, i.e. the fraud, won’t become obvious. For, the candles are prepared by the Patriarchal Warden and not the laymen who do the temple chores as usual. The candles are covered with a flammable material and no one else is allowed to receive the light; not even the most prestigious clerics and pilgrims. Everything suggests that this is a downright human fabrication and this is even whispered among the Sepulcher Fraternity.” (Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, pp. 128, 361)

Bishop Porphyrius Uspensky (1804-1885)

In his diaries, the Bishop wrote that the clergy in Jerusalem knew that the Holy Fire was fraudulent.

First, Bishop Porphyrius quotes a certain Hierodeacon Gregory, who “upon entering the chapel of the Sepulcher at the time when, according to common belief, the Holy Fire descends, saw with horror that the fire was being lit simply from a lampada which is always [kept] burning; and so the Holy Fire is not a miracle. He himself [Hierodeacon Gregory] told me about it today.”

Second is the following story, which he says he heard directly from Metropol­itan Dionysius:

In the same year that the famous Ibrahim, Pasha of Egypt and lord of Syria and Palestine, was in Jerusalem, it was found to be that the fire received at the Lord’s Sepulcher on Holy Saturday is a ‘not-holy fire’ [lit.: not grace-filled] but is kindled in the way that all flames are kindled. How? The Pasha wanted to see for himself if the fire really does suddenly and miraculously appear on the roof of the Sepulcher of Christ or if it is lit by an ordinary sulfur match. What did he do? He announced to the Patriarch’s representative hierarchs that it would be his pleasure to sit in the chapel itself during the receiving of the fire and watch vigilantly to see how it appears; and he added that if the miracle proved to be true, he would give [to the Church] 5000 poungs (2.5 million piasters); and if it turned out to be a lie, then they would [be forced to] give him all the money collected from the deceived worshippers, and he would print about the dirty fraud in all the newspapers of Europe. The Patriarchal representatives—Archbishop Misail of Petroaravisk, Metropolitan Daniel of Nazareth and Bishop Dion­ysius then of Philadelphia [in Asia Minor], now of Bethlehem—gathered to decide what to do. During the meet­ing, Misail admitted that in the inner-chapel he lights the fire from a lampa­da concealed behind the marble icon of the Resurrection of Christ located near the very Sepulcher. After this admission, it was deci­ded to humble request Ibrahim not to meddle with religious affairs; and to the Pasha was sent the dragoman [interpreter] of the Holy Sepul­cher Monastery, who informed the Pasha that there would be no benefit for His Radiance to get to know the sacraments and mysteries of Christian church-services and that the Russian Emperor Nicholas [I] would be greatly displeased if he started learning about these sacraments. Pasha Ibra­him heard the dragoman out, made a giving-up-the-idea gesture with his hand, and fell silent. But from that time on, the Holy-Sepulcher clerics no longer believe in the miraculous app­ear­ance of the fire. Having said all this, the metropolitan added that only from God can be expected the discontinuance of (our) pious lie. As He knows and is able, he soothes the people, who believe now in the miraculous fire of Holy Saturday. And for us is forbidden even to consider such a revolutionary act [of revealing the lie]; they would tear us pieces at the very chapel of the Holy Sepulcher.”

The Book of My Life: Diaries and Notes of Bishop Porphyrius Uspensky, St Petersburg, 1894 Part 1, p.671 and The Book of My Life, St Petersburg, 1896 Part 3, pp.299-301.

Ephraim II, Patriarch of Jerusalem (1766-1771)

This absurdity and supernatural perception of churchmen and theologians who claim the ‘holy light’ is not only a miracle but God-given (θεόδοτο) is unacceptable. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Efraim, who died in 1771, recounts his personal experience and describes the whole ceremony, characterizing it as “handmade engineering” and those involved as “light-makers.”

Γ. Καμπούρογλου, Μνημεία της ιστορίας των Αθηναίων

Hierodeacon Neophytos of Kavsokalyvia (1713-1784)

The author of The 1777 Anonymous Manual on Continuous Reception of the Holy Communion, made statements about a “sleight of hand” regarding the Holy Fire.

Νικηφόρου Θεοτόκη, στὸ Κ.᾿Ι. Δυοβουνιώτου, «Περὶ τοῦ ἐν ῾Ιεροσολύμοις ῾Αγίου Φωτός», «᾿Επετηρὶς ῾Εταιρείας Βυζαντινῶν Σπουδῶν», ἔτος ΙΒʹ, ᾿Αθῆναι 1936, σελ. 5.

From the official Website of the Jerusalem Patriarchate:

At 12pm, midday…It is necessary for us to stress that the heterodox have in advance searched the entire interior of the Holy Sepulcher, in order to certify that there is no lit vigil lamp or some other source of light” [They don’t mention that the monk Metrophanes hid twice in the Sepulcher without anyone seeing him! ]

At 12am…the lamp/candlestick [They don’t mention if it is extinguished or lit], if it becomes useful [they don’t mention what its use is] in the holy ceremony, is transferred…to the Holy Sepulcher for a prompter path.

The important thing is that the holy light for a few minutes [it doesn’t mention how much] does not have fire. Namely, if you rest the holy light on your hands, it will not burn [They don’t mention any time span whatsoever for non-burning, nor let it be for 30 seconds in a motionless hand!]

The ‘Secret Prayer’ of the Patriarch

Wondrous myths and legends have been woven around the special prayer chanted by the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch; the common denominator being that it is a special prayer that only he knows! This is in no way true. The prayer was first published in 1933 by Archimandrite Kallistos Meliaras (professor of the University of Athens) and published again in 1967 in the “New Zion” (Νέα Σιών) magazine, official publication of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. It is obvious that we’re not talking about a big secret, to which no one has access other than the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch, but a text that has been in circulation for more than 80 years! (π. Γ. Δ. Μεταλληνός, Φωτομαχικά-Αντιφωτομαχικά, εκδ. Κάτοπτρο-Ιστορητής, 2001, p.33) 

Despota Lord Jesus Christ, the originally shining wisdom of the without beginning Father. You who dwells in the unapproachable Light;* You who commanded that Light shine forth from the darkness, who said let it be Light and there was Light. Oh Lord provider of Light who took us out of the delusion of darkness and led us to the miraculous Light of Your awareness. You filled with light and joy the earth through Your incarnate presence and the underworld through Your descent to Hades and after these through Your Apostles You announced the light to all nations.

We thank You because through pious faith, you brought us from darkness to light and we became sons through holy baptism, seeing your glory full of grace and truth. However, oh light-giver Lord, oh great light, who said the people living in darkness.* Despota, Lord, the true light that illumines every man who comes in the world. The only light of the world and light of the lives of people, through whose glory the universe was filled, you brought the light to the world through Your economy of incarnation even though people loved the darkness rather than the light.

You Lord, giver of light, listen to us sinners and unworthy servants who, at this moment stand by this Your Most Holy and light bearing Tomb, and accept us who honour Your Holy Passion, Your most holy Crucifixion, Your voluntary death, the laying of Your divine body in this holy tomb, Your burial and Your resurrection after three days, which we joyfully have already started celebrating, remembering Your descent to Hades, through which the souls of the righteous You freed in a kingly manner with the lightning of Your divine light filling the underworld.

So with happy heart and spiritual joy, on this most blessed Saturday, Your most salvific mysteries which You divinely executed on earth and under the earth we celebrate, and remembering You, the exhilarating and appealing light which You divinely shone in the underworld, we produce this light, as an icon of Your congenial divine appearance to us.Because during the salvific and bright night everything was filled with light, the heaven, the earth and the underworld through the supernatural mystery of Your descent to Hades and Your resurrection from the tomb after three days.

For this reason, we piously take from the light that diligently and eternally burns on Your light-bearing Sepulchre, we spread it among those who believe in You, who are the true light, and we pray and plead with You, oh Holiest Despota, so that You will elevate [the light] into a gift of sanctification and fill it with Your divine grace, through the grace of Your Most holy and light-bearing Sepulchre. And those who touch it with piety, bless and sanctify them, free them from the darkness of passions and make them worthy of Your brightest dwellings, where the unsetting light of Your divinity shines. Lord, grant them health and good life and fill their homes with everything good.

Yes, Lord, the Light-giver, listen to me the sinner at this moment, and grant to me and to them to walk in Your light and remain in it as long as we have the light of this temporary life. Lord grant us that the light of our good works shine in front of the people together with Your without beginning Father and the Holy Spirit. You appointed us to be the light to the nations that we shine to those walking in the darkness. But we have loved the darkness rather than the light, committing evil works.

Anyone who does evil works hates the light according to Your faultless word. For this we stumble every day due to our sinning because we walk in the darkness. But make us worthy to live the rest of our life with the eyes of our minds enlightened. Grant us to live as sons of light and walk in the light of Your commandments. The bright garment of our baptism which we have blackened by our evil works, whiten it like the light, you who wears the light like a garment. Grant us to dress ourselves with the weapons of light, that we may overcome the lord of darkness, who transforms himself into an angel of light.

Yes, Lord, as You shone the light to those who are in darkness and under the shadow of death, likewise, today, shine in our hearts with Your pure light, so that becoming illumined and warmed up in faith, glorify You the one and only originally shining light, exhilarating light to everlasting ages. Amen.

From the Greek Wikipedia Page

There is a viewpoint that the Holy Light is an occult implementation organized by the Jerusalem Patriarchate clergy for centuries. One version proposes that the candles are previously immersed in phosphorus, which has the property of self-ignition after some time. Phosphorus as a chemical element was discovered in the 17th century and is not found free in nature. For the proponents of this view, some “miracle substances” or “fountains” (sources) exhibiting such phenomena were nevertheless known long before in the Middle East. This in turn can mean that either the entire Holy Sepulchre is located in such an area that either used such an ancient “miracle substance” (compound) whose name and composition are preserved today as a “closely guarded” sacerdotal secret. However, the view supported by the faithful is the flame from the Holy Light is brought to illuminate but not to cause combustion within the first 33 minutes, in contrast to the natural action of the fire. Of course, in this case it is obvious that the comparison is made ​​with reference not to the light, but the fire.

The author Michael Kalopoulos has published research indicating that the self-igniting materials and religious pyrotechnics that were known in ancient times are sufficient to produce the effect described as the “holy light.” Of course this estimate ignores the fact that the candles not self-ignite unexpectedly, although the supply is made ​​by open spaces or stores, which have the goods exposed to air, and even the supply of candles, often several days before the Resurrection, while in other cases, the faithful remain in the Church of the Resurrection of the evening of Great Friday.
Note: There are many narratives from Jerusalem about candles self-igniting completely unexpectedly. But there is a way to ignite after a long time.

From the English Wikipedia Page

In 2005, in a live demonstration on Greek television, Michael Kalopoulos, author and historian of religion, dipped three candles in white phosphorus. The candles spontaneously ignited after approximately 20 minutes due to the self-ignition properties of white phosphorus when in contact with air. According to Kalopoulos’ website:

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 the density of the solution and the solvent employed.

Kalopoulos also points out that chemical reactions of this nature were well known in ancient times, quoting Strabo, who states: “In Babylon there are two kinds of naphtha springs, a white and a black. The white naphtha is the one that ignites with fire.” (Strabon Geographica He further states that phosphorus was used by Chaldean magicians in the early fifth century BC, and by the ancient Greeks, in a way similar to its supposed use today by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Adamantis Korais

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,’ 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.”

One can read his entire treatise in the Greek language here:







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)

The Septuagint Translation (Michael Kalopoulos, 2003)

NOTE: This article is excerpted from the 6th chapter of Biblical Religion: The Great Lie:

Michael Kalopoulos

Since the biblical authors were obviously anything but fools, how can we explain the fact that all those peculiar details concerning the history of the patriarchs were recorded in the narrative? It is with great pleasure that I can give you the answer to that most difficult of questions; it was provided (unintentionally) by the famous mythologist Robert Graves and his Hebrew collaborator Dr. Raphael Patai in their book “Hebrew Myths”:

“It was common wisdom among the Hebrews, that the worst day in the history of Israel was not that of their captivity…by Sennacherib, neither the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, but the day the Seventy men translated into Greek the Bible, according to the command of Ptolemy the Second (285-246 B.C.) They (the Hebrews) believed that their Scriptures included records of the evil actions of their forefathers…that should never have been revealed to the enemies of Israel.” 1

The Burning of the Library at Alexandria in 391 AD (via orders of Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria)
The Burning of the Library at Alexandria in 391 AD (via orders of Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria)

It is freely admitted here that a great disaster befell the Hebrews when the contents of their holy scriptures were suddenly translated into Greek! At the same time, it is explicitly admitted that the cause for the translation of the Septuagint was the command of King Ptolemy II. A later, more widely circulated but totally fabricated Jewish version of those same events has claimed that the Septuagint translation was supposedly initiated after persistent requests of the Jews themselves to King Ptolemy II (as contained in the fake letter of Aristeas). The historian Flavius Josephus2 initiated that historical forgery; being a Rabbi, he had every reason to produce such a fabrication. According to Josephus, a Jew called Aristeas who was employed in the court of King Ptolemy and knew of the King’s love for books, proposed to procure for him a translation of the Hebrew Bible in exchange for the liberation of 120.000 Jewish slaves that had been captured in Jerusalem. That tale claims the powerful Ptolemy agreed to every Jewish term; not only did he liberate the Hebrew slaves, but he supposedly compensated both them and their masters with vast amounts of money. The credibility of that tale is nil; every scholar has agreed that this tale was a fabrication of Josephus (whose writings do not represent a paragon of objectivity in any case). Modern orthodox priests, of high status also agree on that. 3

The Letters of Aristeas
The Letters of Aristeas

The fact that the task of producing the Septuagint translation was finally undertaken by secular bilingual Hebrew intellectuals rather than initiated priests, who might have tried to hide the incriminating evidence in the Bible, proves that the real cause for the Septuagint translation was indeed the command of the bibliophile Greek King Ptolemy II, in Egypt that was ruled by Macedonian Greeks at the time.

“Ptolemy, the King of Egypt, constructed a Library in Alexandria and collected all sorts of books for it… hearing that there existed recorded ancient histories of the Hebrews… he ordered seventy (Hebrew) wise men to translate the Hebrew Scriptures (into Greek)…he ordered them to reside not in the city, but rather (isolated them) on the Island of Pharos, living by themselves in separate houses to provide an accurate interpretation (translation). He also ordered those supervising to provide them with every assistance; however he explicitly forbid any discussions among them to avoid any understanding between them, in order to extract the precise interpretation.” 4

St. Epiphanius of Cyprus
St. Epiphanius of Cyprus

The Jewish Episcope of Cyprus Epiphanius (310-404 AD) admitted:

“In order to avoid any bargains among them and secure an unadulterated translation, Ptolemy II ordered thirty six small houses to be built; he then confined the wise men in couples (to the houses) and provided slaves that would take care of them… however those houses were constructed without any windows, leaving just a skylight open for light in the roof of the rooms. The Seventy (wise men) spent their time accordingly translating from dawn till dusk until they procured the translation.” 5

Ptolemy II certainly did not require any assistance from Jerusalem, as claimed in the letter of Aristeas; he had the best Greek-speaking Hebrews at his disposal, right in his own capital, Alexandria. Seventy Alexandrian Scholars,6 rather than Rabbis, guarded and in a certain sense imprisoned, yielded to the authority of Ptolemy the II, on that small Island of Pharos. Indeed, as they had been separated from each other in independent pairs they were compelled to deliver the most accurate Greek translation of the Hebrew narrative of their patriarchs’ history.

A picture from an ancient codex that depicts the 72 translators of the Septuagint receiving gifts from Ptolemy.
A picture from an ancient codex that depicts the 72 translators of the Septuagint receiving gifts from Ptolemy.

That translation represented an immense historical mistake made by those seventy-two Hebrew scholars of Alexandria; the translation preserved for us a version of the biblical narrative ‘frozen’ in the exact form it had at that specific moment! At least for the first four centuries of the Christian Church, the Septuagint translation was the only translation of the Scriptures used by the ecclesiastical authors, the Fathers and founders of the Christian Church. 7

Statue of Achilles thniskon (dying) at the Corfu Achilleion.
Statue of Achilles thniskon (dying) at the Corfu Achilleion.

Ever since that time, the Septuagint translation has been the greatest weakness, a veritable Achilles’ heel of the Hebrew Scriptures. Despite all that and with the silent consent of the Christian Orthodox Church for which the Septuagint translation is still the official translation of the Bible, the Septuagint version has almost disappeared from public view. The reason can be but one: That translation was compiled by scholars who were not aware of the danger of correctly translating the original Hebrew scriptures; they were surrendering ‘uncovered’ to the Greek-speaking persons of those times the terrible secrets recorded in their hieratical book! The Rabbis reacted with mourning, lamentation and intense anxiety when those revealed secrets of the Hebrew clergy were handed over to the Greek-speaking Gentiles.

“The Rabbis called the day the translation of the Septuagint was published in Greek an ill-fated, terrible day for the Jewish people. The representatives of the Hebrew clergy started a methodical effort to undermine the validity of the translation of the Septuagint.” 8

However, the biblical texts translated by Hebrew scholars in the form of the Septuagint translation in the third century BC, could not be altered any more or be adapted to the changing circumstances of human history! For almost seven centuries, they remained safeguarded and unaltered on the shelves of the Library of Alexandria!

Ever since that time, two hundred and seventy years B.C., the Septuagint Translation, has precluded any possibility to cover up the real record of the patriarchs’ behavior. It appears that precisely that translation was the reason why those biblical texts have reached us half ‘naked’ and full of all those ‘wondrous’ details that have proved so helpful in deciphering that unprecedented recipe of Chaldean hieratical sorcery!

Unfortunately, that unique gift of Ptolemy II was not properly exploited. The Rabbis, in an effort to contain the damage, reacted in a different manner, gradually imposing that confusing allegorical 9 type of interpretation we are all acquainted with. By perpetually suggesting milder and milder allegorical interpretations for the events in those biblical texts, they managed to cover with rose petals of dreamlike interpretations even the most odious and negative deeds described in detail in the biblical narratives! Even the most hair-raising descriptions were gradually obscured by a cloud of theological mist and intricate religious absurdities! In their labyrinth of multiple explanations, probable and improbable interpretations, they managed to conceal the obvious and simple interpretation of the biblical texts. Using their sacred jargon they were able to put aside any type of question and disturbing suspicion.

Charles Duplus 10 wrote, confirming our previous thoughts: “The Hebrew and Christian scholars agree that the books attributed to Moses (Pentateuch) were written in an allegorical manner, often including in their verses an entirely different meaning from the apparent one”.

Rabbi Maimonides
Rabbi Maimonides

The eminent Rabbi Maimonides 11 clearly and directly exhorted the faithful to avoid looking under that allegorical veil and to refrain from confronting the terrible facts of the Bible. Here are the words of Maimonides, the wisest of the Rabbis: “One must not listen to or interpret what is included in the book of the creation in a literal manner, neither must he entertain (interpretative) ideas such as those of the laymen; otherwise our ancient wise men would not counsel us with such care to hide those meanings and to refrain from raising that allegorical veil covering the truths included (in the Bible)… But whoever might guess the true meaning (of the biblical texts) should avoid revealing it to the public.” 12

Similar protective curses can be found in the texts of Josephus: “No one has ever taken the risk to interpret those laws, on account of their divine and terrible nature. Some who attempted that were punished by the (Hebrew) God. A certain person who tried to give an account of (to criticize) some of them (i.e. the laws of the Bible) lost his head for more than thirty days. When he came to his senses, he always tried to pacify God, suspecting that his affliction originated from Him… (does the tune remind you of the curses in Deuteronomy)? That disaster befell him because he showed great curiosity about divine matters and tried to reveal them to the common people. Accordingly he cancelled his project and was restored to his senses”. Antiq. Jud. 12 111-113

The romanticized engraving of Flavius Josephus appearing in William Whiston's translation of his works
The romanticized engraving of Flavius Josephus appearing in William Whiston’s translation of his works

We have nothing further to add to the revealing advice of Maimonides and to the protective superstitions of Josephus. Unfortunately, the acquisition of the revealing Septuagint translation was followed by twenty-two centuries of ‘complete’ inaction! Even the ablest minds among us did not take the time for a second, critical examination of that supposedly religious text, presented to us as ‘divinely authored’ with such intense religious passion! Alas, our fathomless naivety, our silly assumptions, our obstinate day-dreaming were the main factors that allowed that Chaldean chronicle of sorcerer’s feats to pass itself off as an enlightened religious tale. Miserable men, we showed such criminal negligence, that we even used the biblical tales as educational texts for instructing our sensitive and defenseless children!

“I leave the evidence I have produced, to be refuted, if anyone can do it: and I leave the ideas that are suggested in the conclusion of this work, to rest on the mind of the reader; certain as I am, that when opinions are free, either in matters of government or religion, truth will finally and powerfully prevail.”

Thomas Paine: The Age of Reason Part II


  • Robert Graves & Raphael Patai: Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis, 48.1 1963 Josephus also admits that: “this legislation (the Bible) is sacred and should not be revealed through sacrilegious (gentile) mouths.” Antiq. Jud.12.39.
  • Flavius Josephus Antiq. Jud. 12.17.
  • Metropolitan Methodios of Pisidia, formerly Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain , in his book Hellenism and Judaism , in a part titled : ‘The letter of Aristeas’ concludes that the letter is a forgery and a trick. (see page 111,114, and 123) He also refers to many eminent British and other scholars who hold the same view.
  • Pseudo-Justinus Martyr 2.13.D.
  • Epiphanius Eccl De mensuris et Ponderibus 77.
  • The view that: “the translators did not come from Palestine, but were requisitioned from Alexandria itself” is accepted by Methodius Fougias in his book: The Hellenic-Judaeic tradition, pp. 61 , 65 . J. A. Fitzmyer in his book, The language of Palestine in the first century (1972): “Knowledge of the Greek language among the Hebrews of that era was rudimentary. So much can be surmised from the bilingual inscriptions of that time”. The same reasonable explanation is advanced by Robert H. Pfeiffer (History of New Testament Times), Feldman and Hengel (Judaism and Hellenism) Gunther Zuntz (Aristeas on the translation of the Torah) and Sidney Jellicoe (The Septuaginta and Modern Study) Oxford 1968 pp 59-63
  • For the Eastern Orthodox Church, “The Septuagint Translation is the official version used by the Orthodox Church…and is the most trustworthy one including those Hebrew ones (Masoretic) that have been altered”. Those revealing facts were admitted by the Orthodox Church in her official statute, Holy Rudder, Publ. Astir pp 113,116 and 614 In the Prologue of the Septuagint that I have in my hands, we read that the Septuagint translation is: “The Bible of the first eight pre-Christian centuries. The Bible of the Apostles, of the fathers of the church and of the ecumenical synods, the base of all other old church translations, that continues to be officially the Bible of The Eastern Orthodox Church”.
  • G. Kordatos, The Old Testament in the light of criticism, pp 314.
  • “Allegorical: Metaphorical, not true” Hesychius Lexicon.
  • Duplus Charles, Interpretation of the myth of the Sun worshipped by the name of Jesus Christ, pp 25-28.
  • Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon – The most influential Rabbi of the Middle Ages (1135-1204 A.D.).
  • G..Sietos, The Mosaic Mysteries, pp 131.