- Title: WEST BANK: Christians re-enact Jesus' baptism in Jordan River
- Date: 1st April 2010
- Summary: GREEK ORTHODOX PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM THEOPHILOS THE THIRD WALKING DOWN STEPS TOWARDS RIVER PATRIARCH BLESSING A WREATH, THROWING IT INTO THE WATER WREATH IN JORDAN RIVER WATER PATRIARCH BLESSING A WHITE DOVE, RELEASING HER CLERGY MEN PRAYING
- Embargoed: 16th April 2010 13:00
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVAERMC7YQWW6HFQCNYZNONXHYR6
- Story Text: Thousands of Christian pilgrims arrived on Wednesday (March 31) to the West Bank site of Qasr Al-Yahud, next to the Palestinian city of Jericho, where they re-enacted the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.
Worshippers from around the world, Israel and the West Bank made their way down the river bank and immersed themselves in the water, where Christian tradition says John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
Some historians identify Qasr Al Yahud as the approximate site of the original baptism, situated alongside the international border between Israel and Jordan.
"Every Christian likes to come and visit once in their life time and dip in Jordan river water, to take the blessing of the Jordan River where Jesus Christ dipped himself," Chrisos Tomos, head of Deir Hajla monastery in Jericho explained to Reuters Television.
In Orthodox tradition, baptism is executed by immersion into the water three times. Whilst baptism can take place year round, the annual ceremony on Wednesday was led by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos the Third, and took place simultaneously on both the Israeli and the Jordanian river banks.
The Patriarch blessed a wreath that was thrown into the river, and later released a white dove.
"Happy holidays and I wish that all the visitors who came will get the blessings of the Jordan River. We hope peace will spread in Middle East," Theophilos told worshippers.
In a statement issued ahead of the Holy Week, Israel's Defence Ministry said it would ease travel restrictions across the West Bank as a gesture to Christian pilgrims across the region.
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