Catholic churches mark pilgrimage to Baptism Site

(Photo: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)
AMMAN— Jordan’s Catholic churches commemorated the 23rd annual pilgrimage to the Baptism Site on Friday, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.اضافة اعلان

More than 5,000 Catholic pilgrims were present at the site and Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa presided over a mass at the Church of the Baptism of Christ.

Holy waterJars of holy water were carried in a festive procession, which included clerics, scout teams, and candle holders. They headed to the Church of the Baptism of Christ, after filling the jars with water from a shallow and muddy Jordan River.

Before the start of the festive mass, a press conference was held on the banks of the Jordan River, during which the Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media Father Rifaat Badr, celebrated the first day of pilgrimage to the Baptism free from the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem encouraged pilgrims and believers from all over the world to come to the baptismal site and spend nights in the vicinity.

After the press conference, the Patriarch, accompanied by his delegation, filled jars with water from the Jordan River, to be used during mass, as a sign for the renewal of their baptism vows.

MassScouts then led the procession to the church to begin the mass, which was concelebrated by Mgr. Jamal Daibes, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan, Mgr. Joseph Jebara, Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Jordan, and Mg.r Mauro Lalli, Chargé d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature, as well as many representatives of other churches.

Various officials and representatives of the Chaldean, Syriac, Armenian, and Maronite Catholic churches were also present.

Receding river Following the ritual, no one was allowed to go down into the water. Instead, security personnel filled small bottles for pilgrims with muddy water, in light of the receding water of the river.

The river is now covered densely by tree branches and palm fronds.

The river's flow rate has decreased by 7 percent, which also resulted in a drop in the level of the Dead Sea by three feet annually, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

In November, Jordan and Israel signed a declaration of intent to rehabilitate and improve the environment and water system of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, on the sidelines of the climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh.

This site, which is also known as Bethany Beyond Jordan and sometimes Bethabara, has been venerated as the original location of the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist since the Byzantine period.

It has been a World Heritage Site of the UNESCO since 2015. And Pope John Paul II approved this site for Christian pilgrimage in 2000.

It is among the five main Christian sites in Jordan, in addition to Mount Nebo, Mar Elias, Makawer, and Our Lady of the Mountain in Anjara.

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