Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Friday, 21 October 2022

Extending our cultural activities to the governorates of Jordan

Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader :

Days ago, I was pleased to participate in the Al-Shifa Cultural Forum conference, which was held in cooperation with Ajloun Department of Heritage and Culture and with the support of the Ministry of Culture on "The Cultural, Touristic, and Historical Importance of Ajloun Governorate".


As I was on my way from Ajloun to Amman, I meditated the importance of having these activities held and organized in all the governorates of the Kingdom, and not merely be confined to our beloved capital, Amman.


A valid expression on the Ministry of Culture, that supports nowadays these numerous cultural activities in Jordan's 12 governorates, is that it is necessary for these cultural activities and impressive initiatives to be transferred to the other governorates in order to point out that we have an integrated cultural body, especially in this summer which ended while being abounded with numerous festivals, conferences and seminars.


As for the Ajloun conference, light was shone on the history of this governorate, which is a history abounding with events that can be added to the beautiful nature. Historical, humanitarian, and cultural heritage, as well as religious stories that are mentioned in history and religion books took place in this part of the world, due to its location which is close to northern Palestine.


I, personally, talked about the religious-touristic heritage of Ajloun Governorate, and focused on the Christian sites located there. In 2000, an announcement was made about five main sites for Christian pilgrimage in the Kingdom, namely the Baptism Site of Lord Jesus Christ, the Grotto of Prophet Moses (Mount Nebo), the site of the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist (Fortress of Machaerus), the Grotto of Our Lady of the Mount in Anjara, and the site Prophet Elijah in Ajloun. It is to be noted that two of these sites are located in Ajloun Governorate.


The site of Our Lady of the Mount is a relatively recent one because it dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, especially in 1924, when Fr. Angelo Foresto, who is  considered the founder of the Latin Patriarchate parish in Ajloun, brought the statue of Blessed Mary and there began a popular Marian appreciation of the shine in the town of Anjara, which has become since 1972 under the care of Fr. Yousef Ne'mat an official pilgrimage site endorsed by the local Catholic Church and the Vatican. Today, this grotto has been renovated, and celebrations are marked annually on the third Friday of June every year.


As for the site of Prophet Elijah, it is an ancient one dating back to the 5th century, where two churches were discovered, namely a large and a small one based on their areas, as they immortalize the memory marking the birth of Prophet Elijah. At this site, I called for holding the celebration on both days, namely on the third Friday of June, and to hold two cultural days on July 20 to be held in Ajloun Governorate implying that the celebration may not be confined to the Holy Mass celebrated by His Beatitude the Patriarch, but that the celebration may take place in a more comprehensive and extensive way.


It is important to note that the speakers at this conference shed light on the common humanitarian, cultural, and religious perspective between Muslims and Christians in this governorate which expresses a miniature of Greater Jordan that contains numerous cultural and heritage treasures that we have a responsibility to hand over to future generations.


Best wishes to Al-Shifa Cultural Forum—which incorporates the townships of Wahadneh, Halawah, and Hashemiyeh-- which is considered one of the wonderful models in our dear governorates. We have to pay more attention to our cultural forums which are located far from Amman so that these initiatives may not only be confined within the walls of the capital, but rather be extend to all parts of the beloved homeland.


As for Ajloun, the cable car project which is  due to be launched in the coming weeks represents a cultural shift as it will attract tourists and Jordanian citizens who will come and visit one of the most important natural  treasures in our Jordan and indeed in the entire world.