Greek Journalist Acquitted After Challenging Jerusalem Holy Fire Miracle


Hundreds of religious people gather every year to experience the tradition of holy fire in Jerusalem.
Hundreds of religious people gather every year to experience the tradition of holy fire in Jerusalem. Credit: sharbm75. CC BY 2.0/flickr

Greek journalist Dimitris Alikakos, who had been in a five-year legal battle with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem for ‘fabricating evidence’ to prove the Holy Fire in Jesus’s tomb does not ignite miraculously but through the use of matches, has been acquitted.

Alikakos walked out of the court in Athens yesterday (Friday, March 29) leaving behind the shackles of prosecution for the first time in nearly half a decade.

The Greek journalist had been in a legal battle with the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Holy Land, and several of its priests since 2019, when he published a book challenging the miracle of the Holy Fire, the flames that emerge on Great Saturday, the day before Easter, at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus is said to have been resurrected.

The blue light is said to have emitted within Jesus’s tomb, rising from the marble slab covering the stone bed believed to be that upon which Jesus’s body is to have been placed for burial. The Greek state in cooperation with the Greek Orthodox Church arranges an elaborate ceremony each year for the arrival of the Holy Fire to Athens and then to the rest of the country.

Following a visit to Jerusalem in 2018 to investigate the ritual, Alikakos wrote a book titled ‘Redemption – About the Holy Light’, in which he gathered testimonies from people involved in the process of touching the light, such as guardians of the Holy Sepulcher and Patriarchs. These testimonies lead to the conclusion, as some of them admit, that it is not a miracle, but rather the touch is facilitated by human intervention.

What did Alikakos’s Book Claim about the Holy Fire in Jerusalem?

In his book, he presents an interview with the skeuophylax Archbishop Isidoros of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in which the latter admits that the “Sleepless Candle”, which he, himself, puts into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the morning of the Holy Saturday, is ignited by him with a lighter.

The former (1984–1988) skeuophylax (chamberlain) Archbishop Nikiforos makes the same acknowledgement, except that he was using matches.

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He said he would never accept that the Holy Fire was a miracle. “Miracles happen when God decides, Not when we decide… Such “miracles” are performed by charlatans and magicians, not the Church. “Our faith cannot be based on scams,” Nikiforos said.

Alikakos also posted videos on YouTube, showing testimony that the priests themselves lit the flames.

The Jerusalem patriarchate hit back at Alikakos’s claims about holy fire, publishing a statement in 2019 which read, “What is written in the disputed book is the product of fictional stories invented by the author with the obvious aim of scandalizing the faithful and obtaining financial benefit from the sales of the book.”

It was said the timing of the book’s release, just before Easter, was proof of “the deeper motives of the author and the publishing house.”



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