More than 10,000 Christians from all over the world flocked to the Jordan River in the West Bank on Sunday to reenact the Baptism of Jesus Christ and take part in the annual "Epiphany" events.
Qasar Al-Yahud, the traditional Christ baptism spot on the Jordan River which is run under the auspices of the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority, is also the place where the Israelites, led by Joshua, crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land 3,200 years ago. Worshipers from Israel, the West Bank and around the world commemorated this crossing, as well the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, by submerging themselves in the cold river water.
Ethiopian monks in colorful traditional costumes sang and danced to the sound of drums as they processed towards the river, followed by Greek Orthodox Patriarch and others playing instruments. Once they finally reached the river bank, they dipped under water three times, just as in the style of a traditional baptism.
Issa Elias, spokesperson for the Jerusalem Orthodox patriarchate spoke to the crowds at the ceremony site, encouraging them to proudly celebrate their traditions and remain resilient in the face of the extreme persecution Christians in the Middle East are facing today.
"My message, especially to the Christian world, is: you need to remain in your holy places, in your houses, in your churches,” Elias said. “I call on the entire world to make pilgrimage to those holy places.”
Events for the Epiphany will take place throughout the region January 18-20.sign up to our newsletter
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