Jerusalem, Israel -- Christian worshippers eagerly anticipated the Holy Fire ceremony at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Saturday.
Those who arrived early watched as the keyholder to the sacred site arrived to unlock the church doors. Due to the church being divided by different denominations, the keys are held by a Muslim man whose family has been considered neutral by all parties for several generations.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City is believed to be built where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
Security was also present in the church courtyard as local Christians and pilgrims from around the world arrived for the annual ceremony.
After a procession around the church, all of the lights inside are extinguished before the entrance of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch who carries a handful of candles. When the Patriarch emerges, the candles are believed to be lit by a miraculous flame which is then used to light the candles of the congregation. The ceremony dates back to at least the early ninth century and attracts thousands of pilgrims each year.
Traditionally, an olive lamp lit by the "Holy Fire" is transferred soon after the ceremony to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where Jesus is believed to be born.
The Easter holiday culminates on Easter Sunday when Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead, three days after being crucified.