Hundreds of white-robed Christian pilgrims from Brazil entered the gently flowing waters of the Jordan River on Monday, some so overcome with emotion that they sobbed and collapsed on the shoulders of friends even before it was their turn to be immersed.
The Brazilians, more than 700 in all, culminated a two-week pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a mass baptism at Yardenit, the site where the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee, and where many Christians believe that John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
After two hours of sermons, prayers and hymn singing, the pilgrims were submerged into the water, 10 or 12 at a time.
"I felt like a new life was born again inside me," said Fostenes Sousa, 46, of Salvador, Brazil. It was rewarding, he said, "to do the same thing that Jesus has done."