The cleared site of Jesus’ baptism is again available to the faithful
On the west bank of the Jordan, the site of the baptism of Jesus, until recently a huge minefield, will again be available to the faithful. After fifty-six years, the first liturgical celebrations will be held here on the Sunday of the Baptism of the Lord.
A Franciscan from the Custody of the Holy Land (Custodia Terræ Sanctæ) reminds us that the town of Qasr Al-Yahud, (“Castle of the Jews”), which tradition associates with the baptism of the Savior at the hands of St. John the Baptist, was unavailable since 1967, i.e. the time of the so-called the Six-Day War. The area of fifty-five hectares was mined and became a closed military area.
“The area from which more than four thousand mines have been removed becomes a place of peace and prayer again,” emphasizes Father Faltas.
The area has historic churches and monasteries that were previously inaccessible due to mining. In 2011, the Israeli authorities marked out only one route for Christian pilgrims there. Previously, once a year, they could be visited by the Franciscans from the Custody of the Holy Land.