The number of the visitors to the Baptism Site rose by 300 per cent in 2022 compared to 2021, according to a statement issued by Acting Director-General of the Baptism Site Commission Abdul Aziz Odwan.
In a statement to Jordan news Agency, Petra, Odwan said that the number of visitors, who include Europeans, Arabs and local Jordanians, rose from 50,000 people in 2021 to 150,000 in 2022. He noted that the Baptism Site Commission had earlier provided facilities for people with disabilities at the River Jordan, and added that efforts are under way to take the necessary measures in preparation for the celebrations marking Epiphany as well as welcoming further pilgrims.
It is worthy to note in this regard that Jordan has launched a $300 million, six-phase project ahead of Christmas celebrations to develop the Baptism Site located on the east bank of the Jordan River. This number of visitors could then swell to one million any time if the proposed phased project for a ‘tourist city’ adjacent to what is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site goes ahead.
Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader had earlier highly valued the site of Jesus Christ’s baptism and said, “Three Catholic popes — St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis — all visited this holy site, recognizing its importance and in 2015, it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
He added, “Since 2000, we have established churches at the site and now is the time to fulfill the needs of the tourists or the pilgrims who come to this site. Until now we don’t have a lot of services.”
Situated on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, nine kilometers north of the Dead Sea, this archaeological site consists of Tel Mar-Elias (Elijah’s Hill) and the area of the churches of Saint John the Baptist near the river.
Situated in a pristine natural environment, the site is the location where Lord Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist. It features Roman and Byzantine remains including churches and chapels, a monastery, caves that have been used by hermits, and pools in which baptisms were celebrated, testifying to the religious character of the place.
By Munir Bayouk | en.abouna.org