Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا abouna.org
The Corona pandemic is still restricting several annual activities of ours including the pilgrimage this year to the unique Baptism Site as the attendance was limited to only 1,000 people who came from different parishes of the Kingdom. The Latin Vicariate had earlier arranged the number of attendants to comply with the size of the parishes. The Jordan Tourism Board also provided buses to transport the pilgrim worshipers from their places of residence to the Baptism Site and ensure them a safe return trip.
This tradition has become an annual event since 2002, as the second Friday of the new year has been assigned as the celebration for the Catholic Churches while the third week has been assigned for the Orthodox Churches. The celebration this year marks the first pilgrimage to the Baptism Site on the first year marking the threshold of Jordan's second centenary. So we view this unique site with great pride as it is the place where Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. This place has several churches and pilgrimage sites destined by pilgrims from various parts of the world throughout the ages and since the outset of Christianity as a recognized religion by the Roman state in the year 313 at the time. The pilgrims left behind writings that show how pleased they were and how much the visit to Jordan affected them, especially when standing at the side of the Jordan River where Lord Jesus was baptized as stated in the Holy Bible.
The second important point is that the pilgrimage to this site began in the modern time since 2000. The first pilgrim to this site was Pope Saint John Paul II who visited Jordan and the Holy Land as a sign of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the year of the Great Jubilee. This was of course followed by Pope Benedict XVI In 2009. In 2014, Pope Francis came to this site without ignoring the fact that Pope Paul VI visited this site in 1964 which was not as it is today. He stood at the bank of the river at a time when the Jordan River was larger and its waters were livelier.
This year, the Holy Mass was celebrated by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa at the Church of the Baptism of Jesus Christ whose construction began in 2009 when Pope Benedict XVI laid its foundation stone during a surprise visit by His Majesty King Abdullah and Her Majesty Queen Rania. Since then, the building of the church has started with a generous donation by Member of the Upper House of Parliament His Excellency Nadim Mu'asher and his family as a donation following the death of their son Ayman in a traffic accident in that area on the day of his graduation. Mr. Mu'asher expresses great eagerness and passion when seeing the construction is completed and is ready to receive worshipers and pilgrims. The Church of the Baptism of Jesus Christ is expected to be a leading architectural masterpiece in the region and in the entire world.
It is to be noted that this year's celebration has been confined to 1,000 people with most of them were from Jordan. But what is missing are the pilgrims whose number dropped in the wake of the spread of the Corona pandemic. We plead with God to have this gloom will dissipate from Earth so that the tourists and the pilgrims will visit our dear Jordan and stand by the holy waters as well as be blessed by the waters of the uniquely blessed Jordan River waters, which shows that although we are the second poorest country in water resources, we are the first country that has the sanctity of the water in which Lord Jesus Christ was baptized.
Have a blessed annual pilgrimage to the Baptism Site.