Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Makaram Qaisi and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Thursday discussed ways to promote Christian pilgrimage to Jordan.
The Vatican recognises Jordan’s Baptism Site of Jesus Christ, Mount Nebo, the Church of Our Lady of the Mountain, and Mar Elias.
Qaisi briefed the Vatican secretary of state on the ongoing work at the Fortress of Machaerus site, particularly following the Royal visit and the directive to rehabilitate and renovate the site for inclusion in the Christian pilgrimage route, making it ready to receive pilgrims.
Accompanied by the head of the Parliamentary Tourism Committee MP Majdi Yaqoub, and the ministry Secretary-General Imad Hijazin, Qaisi had attended the weekly meeting held by Pope Francis in the Paul VI Hall.
During his meetings with religious leaders on the sideline of his visit to the Vatican, the discussions focused on encouraging the Christian pilgrimage, especially with the announcement of 2030 as the year of John the Baptist “Prophet Yahya Bin Zakaria”, and inviting Catholics worldwide through a message from Pope Francis to visit Christian pilgrimage sites in Jordan, especially the Baptism Site and Machaerus.
To mark the Vatican’s declaration of 2025 as a holy year and the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Jordan and the Vatican, Qaisi proposed that Jordan organise a cultural-religious exhibition at the Vatican in the final quarter of this year.
The exhibition aims to highlight the importance and sanctity of Christian pilgrimage to the five Vatican-approved sites, as the Baptism Site is considered the birthplace of the Christian religion after John the Baptist baptised Jesus Christ at the eastern bank of the Jordan River.
Parolin emphasised the importance of these spots and Jordan’s status to the Vatican, noting that “Jordan is the only country to have been visited by four popes, starting with Pope Paul VI in 1964, followed by visits by Pope John Paul II in 2000, Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and Pope Francis in 2014”.
During a meeting with Archbishop Salvatore Rino Fisichella, who oversees Christian pilgrimage at the Vatican, Qaisi presented Jordan’s religious tourism products, highlighting the achievements along the Christian pilgrimage route that connects the Baptism Site with Mount Nebo, Machaerus and other important religious sites, emphasising the vital role of this linkage for pilgrims.
Qaisi also outlined the ministry’s strategies for managing the Machaerus site, emphasising its significance for Christian pilgrims as the site associated with the life and fate of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod.
Fisichella expressed the Vatican’s appreciation for Jordan’s efforts to preserve the holy sites. Jordan has set a model of harmony and coexistence between its Christian and Muslim communities, he said.
During his meeting in with Italian Minister of Tourism Daniela Santanchè, Qaisi attached importance to raising awareness among the Italian public about Jordan’s security and its geographical distance from conflict zones.
Italian tourist arrivals have declined following the aggression against Gaza, compared with previous seasons.
Qaisi and his Italian counterpart also discussed ways to advance cooperation between the private sectors of both countries and to promote Jordan’s tourism offerings in Italy, as Italian nationals represent the second largest group of European visitors to Jordan.