On Monday, April 17, 2023 Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Makram Al-Qaisi met at the ministry with bishop Jean Marc Micas of the French Diocese of Tarbes and Lourdes in France, where Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto is located, and the accompanying delegation.
During the meeting, Al-Qaisi stressed the importance of twinning the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto which was launched in Na’our in 2015, with the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. He indicated that the ministry is making assiduous efforts to rehabilitate, develop, and market Christian pilgrimage sites and other religious sites while providing basic services to visitors, so that these sites become points of attraction for tourists all over the world. In attendance were Director of the Department of Antiquities Dr. Fadi Bal’awi, Director of Jordan Tourism Board Dr. Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat, and advisor to the minister Hisham Al-Abbadi.
Al-Qaisi stressed that Jordan looks forward to seeing more Christian pilgrims at religious archaeological sites, especially at the Baptism Site of Lord Christ, Mount Nebo, Mar Elias, Our Lady of the Mount, Makawer, and other sites, especially the grotto of Martyr Gorgeous in both Mahis and Salt which testify to the brotherhood and solidarity among the citizens, as well as the effort to extend the stay of Christian pilgrims in numerous Jordanian governorates such as Madaba and others.
For his part, Bishop Jean-Marc Micas affirmed that the twinning project is an important project, and work must be done to move forward to achieve it. Expressing his pride in Jordan, which is considered “the land of holiness,” he said that he was visiting Jordan for the first time, and from the first moment he had the feeling of a visitor and a pilgrim looking forward to live a unique spiritual experience, because Jordan is a holy land, and it has places that urge pilgrims to delve deeper into the history of this region, which is full of events of holiness.
On the other hand, Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader thanked the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Jordan Tourism Board for organizing the delegation’s visit. He indicated the importance of twinning of grottos, which would increase the number of pilgrims to archaeological and religious sites as well as raise awareness of Jordan as a holy land. He said that we are witnessing the desired fruits of cooperation between the Ministry, the Jordan Tourism Board, the Baptism Site Authority, and the local churches that play a prominent role in inviting friends from everywhere to visit Jordan and spend a long time there.
As for parish priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and director of the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Na’our Fr. Bashir Bader, he indicated that the twinning of the two grottos is a beautiful and important thing as well as a golden opportunity for Christian pilgrimage. He said that the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, which was launched in 2015, has attracted numerous pilgrims from Jordan and abroad, but the Corona disease period affected it, as is the case in all tourist sites and places of pilgrimage, but, thank God, it will return to be a destination for believers, especially after the visit undertaken by the bishop of Lourdes.
The Bishop of Lourdes and the tourist delegation arrived in Jordan on Sunday, April 16, and met on Monday with Bishop Jamal D’aibes, a number of heads and representatives of churches in Jordan, and Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan Archbishop Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso. The guest bishop will stay in Jordan until next Friday, when he will visit a number of important archaeological and tourist sites, organized by the Jordan Tourism Board and the Catholic Center for Studies and Media.