JERUSALEM — Thousands of Christians thronged the site of the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter eve to watch priests solemnly light giant candles, known as holy fire.
The candles, a symbol of Christ's light to the world, cast a glow on the upturned faces of the faithful who crowded the darkened Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's old walled city to prepare for the most holy of Christian holidays.
While pilgrims prayed, groups of armed border policemen in green uniforms patrolled in front of the church.
Just inside the church entrance, nuns in white robes joined other worshipers kneeling to kiss the pink Stone of Unction. Some sprinkled perfume on the marble slab, which marks the place where the body of Jesus is said to have been anointed after he was crucified.
The stone marks the 14th and last Station of the Cross on the half-mile Via Dolorosa.
Early in the morning, priests lit the holy fire candles, some nearly five feet tall, near the tomb of Christ in the church. At midnight, a Mass was scheduled to mark the start of Easter, the day of the Resurrection.