The Olympic flame is alight! This important symbol of the Olympic Games represents peace, unity and friendship. Its origins date back to ancient Greece, when a fire was considered to be a divine element. Throughout the duration of the ancient Olympics a flame kept burning permanently at the altar of goddess Hestia, as well as at the sanctuary of Zeus and his wife Hera. This is where the Olympic flame was lit again, bringing its spirit and values to the modern Olympic Games. On April 21, 2016 a simple ceremony was held at ancient Olympia. The flame was ignited at its birthplace and was handed to the Rio 2016 Olympic Game organizers. Before reaching Brazil, the Olympic Torch Relay will bring the flame to 83 cities around the world.
The location and method that are used to light the Olympic flame keep the profound connection between the ancient and modern Olympic Games alive. The lighting ceremony takes place in Olympia where once the temple of goddess Hestia stood. The sun and a parabolic mirror ignite the fire.
Actresses dressed as priestesses of the temple of Hera, dressed in beautiful Grecian dresses, reenactment a ritual nearly 3.000 years old. The high priestess starts the ceremony with an invocation to Apollo the ancient god of the sun that will send the rays and to Zeus who will bestow peace. The following incantation was heard at Olympia:
Let the sky, the earth, the sea and the winds sound.
Mountains fall silent.
Sounds and birds’ warbles cease.
For Phoebus, the Light bearer King shall keep us company.
Apollo, King of the sun and the Idea of light,
Send your rays and light the sacred torch.
Apollo God of sun
and the idea of light
send your rays and light the sacred torch
for the hospitable city of Rio
And you Zeus give peace to all peoples on earth and
wreath the winners
of the Sacred Race
The Olympic flame lighting ritual bears an archaic simplicity yet its message reaches a global audience.