Qasr al-Yahud (“the Castle of the Jews”) is located in the West Bank about 40 km. east of Jerusalem, on the border with Jordan. It is one of the holiest sites in the Christian world.
By ROSSELLA TERCATIN
20,000 pilgrims flock to Jesus’s baptismal site on Jordan River (January 2020)
(photo credit: COGAT SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)
More than 20,000 people recently took part in and attended baptism ceremonies at Qasr al-Yahud, the site on the banks of the Jordan River where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said in a statement.
Several ceremonies took place on Saturday and Sunday under the protection of the IDF and Israel Police and under the auspices of the COGAT and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which administer the site, COGAT’s Spokesman’s Office said.
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Qasr al-Yahud (“the Castle of the Jews”) is located in the West Bank about 40 km. east of Jerusalem on the border with Jordan. It is one of the holiest sites in the Christian world and is home to eight church denominations.
Since the beginning of January, five church denominations have held baptismal ceremonies to celebrate the festival of Epiphany.
On Saturday, Theophilos III, patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, guided the procession leading to the ceremony. It was opened by a reception attended by Civil Administration head Brig.-Gen. Ghassan Alyan and Jericho District Coordination and Liaison Administration head Lt.-Col. Eran Gross.
The Greek Orthodox and Eritrean communities also held their services on the same day. On Sunday, the Syriac and Ethiopian sects organized theirs, bringing the total number of people visiting Qasr al-Yahud in the past few days to 20,000.
“At this time of year, we wish to greet members of the Christian religion on the occasion of their baptism ceremonies,” Gross said in the statement.
“The Civil Administration has made much effort to prepare for these important ceremonies, as part of its program to preserve freedom of religion and worship for all Christian denominations,” he said. “Thanks to the ceremonies, we see a marked rise in tourism alongside a boost to the economy, for which I am thankful.
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“On this occasion, I would like to wish all members of the Christian community happy holidays,” Gross said.
Additional ceremonies organized by the Coptic and Armenian communities are scheduled for the end of January.