08 January 2018

Faithful on a pilgrimage to the Jordan River for the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord

On January 7, 2018, the pilgrims went to the banks of the Jordan River for the procession and mass in celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. They then headed to the Mount of Temptation, where Jesus was tempted.

Christians in the Holy Land

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A desert landscape that reminds us of the Gospel narratives: here John the Baptist walked, prepared the path of the Lord, before Jesus' baptism, an episode that marks the beginning of His public life. Every year, The Franciscans of the Holy Land promote the pilgrimage of the faithful to the banks of the Jordan River, the procession, the holy mass and, of course, the gesture to touch the river waters and pray in the place where Jesus was baptized, as the Gospel narrates. The region, still surrounded by minefields and under the rule of Israel, has long been closed to the public. Starting from 2012, however, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is held here, on the Sunday following the Epiphany, according to the liturgical calendar.

Custos of the Holy Land
"This is a very beautiful feast and being able to celebrate it on the banks of the river Jordan, that is precisely the place of baptism, is something exceptional, it is a blessing .This is a beautiful celebration which marks the passage from the contemplation of the Child Jesus to the contemplation of the Jesus adult, in whom, in the same way, the Son of God is manifested. We are called to to follow Him.”

During the liturgy, the faithful also renewed the promises of their baptism. Furthermore, in the Holy Land, it is tradition to baptize children during this celebration. This year, little Samuel received the sacrament on this special day, on the banks of the river that carries a teaching on life change.

Christian woman in Jerusalem
"I baptized my son here, where Christ himself was baptized. My other two sons have also received the sacrament of baptism here; this is a gesture that symbolizes the faith of every person. We are very happy.”

After being baptized, according to the Gospel, the Spirit led Jesus to the desert, where he was tempted. The faithful traced Christ's steps: the procession went from the Jordan river to Jericho, and paused precisely on the Mount of Temptation, also known as Mount Quarantania.

The pilgrimage ended in the Orthodox monastery, place of Christ's temptation. In the building, which is camouflaged with stones from the mountain, the biblical passage that narrates the dialogue between Jesus and Satan was read, a passage that blends with our daily life and invites us to be still in the will of God.