Holy Fire ignites in Jerusalem (VIDEO)

Thousands of Christians have lit torches and candles from a holy flame that 'miraculously' emerged from the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem on the eve of Orthodox Easter.

­The Holy Fire ignited after Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem delivered a prayer. To make sure he had no unholy sources of fire, he was searched by Israeli security forces before entering a small chamber marking the site of Christ' tomb.

The patriarch then passed the fire over to believers who rushed outside the church seeking to pass the flames to thousands of pilgrims waiting in the street.

About 3,000 Israeli police, riot prevention forces and border security guards were deployed to keep order during the rite.

The Holy Fire ritual has been practiced for over 1,000 years.