After the last tourists leave the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City at nightfall, a little-known but centuries-old tradition unfolds at one of Christianity’s holiest sites.

Clerics from the three largest denominations represented in the church – Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic – gather each night for special prayers reserved for the men who take care of the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

Starting at midnight, clerics and monks sing and pray for hours, their chants echoing through the cavernous chambers of the Holy Sepulcher’s darkest rooms.

“The door of the church is closed, no pilgrims, no tourists, it’s very quiet,” said Father Isidoros Fakitsas, the superior of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate at the church. “It’s amazing to feel the liturgy with no people, only the monks.”

Isidoros said he has attended the services for 21 years.

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