2013
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At the Jordan River for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jericho, January 13, 2013

On Sunday the 13th of January, at the site where Jesus was baptized, a pilgrimage was organized by the Franciscan Community of Jerusalem.
On the banks of the Jordan River, a celebration was held that recalls the Baptism of Jesus and signals the end of the Christmas season.
On the site, which was reopened in 2011, the Custody resumed officiating in the site where ancient liturgical tradition locates the Baptism of Jesus.

Hundreds of pilgrims and faithful, coming from different parishes in the Holy Land, followed the procession that started from the Orthodox Church reaching to the river banks.

The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, presided at the Eucharist, which was concelebrated by numerous priests. Representatives of European Consular Authorities were also present.
Following the prayer, which was performed on the banks of the Jordan River and the blessings of the water, the Solemn Mass was celebrated, animated by the choirs of Jerusalem and Jericho.

In his homily Fra Feras Hijazin, Pastor of St. Saviour in Jerusalem, pointed out the importance of the significance of reliving our baptism, more than ever in this Year of Faith, inviting us all to immerse or humanity in Him, in order to become new creatures.

During Mass, Baptism promises were renewed: our faith in Him and his Church.

The ceremony was enlivened by the baptism of four babies from local parishes; it is a special privilege to receive this fundamental Sacrament right in the waters of the Jordan River.

After the Mass the pilgrimage continued, visiting the Greek Orthodox Monastery built on the Mount of the Temptations. The name, dating back to medieval times, is linked to the memory of the forty days that Jesus passed in the desert, before starting His public life.
Orthodox monks who lived in the nearby caves, where the desert anchorites had been living since the Fifth Century, built the Monastery, inlayed in the rocks, at the end of the 1800s.

The faithful along with the Franciscan friars, reached the top of the Mount after having walked up the steep path that leads to the monastery. They stopped at the entrance of the building to read the passage of the Gospel that recalled the temptation of Jesus. Welcomed by the Orthodox monks, those present had a chance to visit the monastery and Church, enjoying the marvelous view that one can admire from this particular place.

If Christmas and Epiphany help our hearts open to the mystery of God that comes to stay with us, the Baptism of Jesus introduces us to a daily personal relationship with Him, since through his immersion in the waters of the Jordan River, He wanted to unite Himself with us.
The Baptism is the bridge that He has built between Him and us that shows us the path to take, in a joyful and concrete way, to meet Him and be loved by Him.

Text by Internet office
Photos by Nadim Asfour

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