Dozens of Roman Catholic Christians gathered on the banks of the Jordan River on Sunday (January 10) to celebrate and re-enact the Baptism of Jesus, in a ceremony officially concluding their Christmas season.
“This feast usually comes after the Christmas, the Christmas celebration in Bethlehem. The following Sunday we have in the liturgical calendar, the feast of the baptism of Jesus Christ. So, that is why we are here now close to the Jordan River to celebrate,” Father, Martin Savalitta, told Reuters.
The Baptism feast was originally celebrated as part of the Feast of Epiphany, but over time it became a separate event celebrated by the Western churches on the first Sunday after Epiphany.
Eastern churches, however, still celebrate both events together.
The feast on Sunday was led by the Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pier Battista Pizzaballa. The “Customs” or Custodian of the Holy Land is the Pope’s envoy to the Middle East. He is the major superior of the friars in the Palestinian territories, as well as in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Cyprus and Rhodes.
“Today we are celebrating at the same site during the feast of Epiphany that gives us a deep feeling of the connection with the land and the river. The river which is the border between us and Jordan,” said the resident of Jerusalem, George Bakleh.
According to Catholic Christian belief, those who are baptised are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God.