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Olympic torch is lit, begins journey

October 22, 2009 |  5:19 pm

The Vancouver Games must be near, because the Olympic torch was lit Thursday in Greece and began its journey to Vancouver.

Fabforum The lighting ceremony of the Olympic torch takes place at the temple of Hera, where the ruins of a temple dedicated to this goddess remain.

First, the flame is lit by sunlight focused on a metal reflector, part of a ritual including a prayer and a hymn made by a woman representing the ancient role of the high priestess.

The ceremony also involves a young boy who cuts off an olive branch and gives it to the high priestess, a symbolic gesture.

 Once the flame is lit and placed in an urn, the high priestess brings it to the Pierre de Coubertin monument and hands it over to the first torchbearer marking the start of the eight-day Greek stage of the Olympic torch's journey.

Photo: Actress Maria Nafpliotou in the role of the High Priestess lights the torch. Credit: Giota Korbaki, EPA.