Israel Enables Christians to Celebrate Jesus’ Baptism Holiday Despite Coronavirus – CBN News
Although the pandemic is keeping Christians and others from visiting the Holy Land, Israel is helping local Christians under lockdown celebrate their feasts.
The coronavirus didn’t stop Greek Orthodox clergy from celebrating the Epiphany recently on both sides of the Jordan River.
“It’s the feast, the day of the memory of the baptism of our Lord, Jesus Christ in [the] Jordan River by St. John the Baptist,” said Prior, Archimandrite Bartholomew from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
It took place at Qasr al Yahud on the Jordan River. Many believe it’s the place where Jesus was baptized by John, where the children of Israel crossed over into the Promised Land and where the prophet Elijah was caught up to heaven.
“The ceremony this year is limited because of the Coronavirus under the strict observance of the Health Ministry guidelines, with the corona restrictions,” said Lt.-Col. Amos Twito, head of the District Coordination Liaison Offices (DCL), of COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories).
Some 800 thousand pilgrims and tourists visited the site during 2019. But the area is closed to the public in general now and the ceremony was quite different.
“Last year, for example, we passed from here more than 15,000 people and this year was only 50. We hope if everything is going to be OK that it will be open again for all of us,” Bartholomew told CBN News.
The ceremony started with prayers at the Greek Orthodox St. John the Baptist Monastery. The small band of worshippers then walked the mile-long