Amina’s return to the site of the baptism of Jesus in Jordan after the COVID-19 subside



Thousands of Catholic Christians took part on Friday in a special mass on the banks of the Jordan River, an annual pilgrimage to the site where believers believe Jesus Christ was baptized.

“This is the first day (pilgrimage) after the end of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Father Rifaat Badr, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Jordan.

The annual event in 2021 was restricted to members of the clergy amid strict restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Last year, 1,000 people were allowed to attend, Bader said at a pre-concert press conference at The Bathtub, or Bethany Beyond Jordan.

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More than 5,000 people took part in this year’s mass at the Church of the Baptism of Christ, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of the capital, Amman, a photographer told AFP.

Before the ceremony begins, scores of priests fill jugs at the river’s edge while boy scouts play music.

Jordan River blessed

Then the priests dipped their fingers in the water they extracted from the Jordan River and used it to bless the worshipers, imitating the baptism of Jesus.

Bishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, presided over the Mass.

“Today…we welcome to this holy site more than 5,000 pilgrims from our cities, villages and Catholic churches,” Badr said.

The site in Wadi al-Kharrar is where Bible historians believe Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist, and began his public ministry.

Also read: Fewer Catholics in Europe, More in Africa and the Americas

Another site on the Israeli-occupied West Bank of the Jordan River is also a site of reverence.

The ceremony held by Pope John Paul II at Wadi al-Kharrar in 2000 was seen by Jordanians as confirmation that this was the original baptismal site.

Christians in Jordan

Remains of several churches, baptismal basins and an elaborate water lattice system – some dating back to Roman times – have been discovered at the site.

In 2015, UNESCO added Al-Maghtas to the World Heritage List.

Badr said that “about 200,000” tourists will visit the site in 2022.

Christians account for six percent of Jordan’s mostly Muslim population of about 10 million.

Also read: The Catholic Church is fighting child abuse “as best we can,” says Pope

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