Thousands of Christian believers will fill the medieval chambers of
the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem on Saturday for a ritual
known as the Holy Fire, packed shoulder to shoulder and holding burning
candles as pilgrims have done for centuries. And, as in centuries past,
the church will still have only one door and no fire exit.
saga of the emergency exit at the storied church has pitted common sense
against religious politics and tradition at one of Christianity’s most
sacred sites. The winner was never in doubt. Despite dire warnings from
Israeli officials, safety concerns have been outweighed by a reluctance
to upset a brittle balance of power among the six Christian sects in the
Sepulcher. A fire exit still does not exist.
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