(11 Jan 2019) Catholics gathered near the banks of the Jordan river on Friday to mark the baptism of Jesus Christ.
Around 2,500 pilgrims, including Iraqi and Syrian refugees, took part in events at Al-Maghtas where, according to Christian tradition, John the Baptist baptised Jesus.
The Bishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, led prayers at the Latin church, located near the eastern bank of the river.
Pizzaballa called upon the Christian churches around the world to take part in the annual pilgrimage at the eastern side of the Jordan river.
Priests blessed people with water from the holy river and parishioners prayed and sang together.
UNESCO has designated the area on the eastern bank of the Jordan river, where the baptism is believed to have taken place, as a World Heritage site.
The spot is close to where the river flows into the Dead Sea and is considered the third most important site in Christianity after the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
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