Jordan’s religious sites are the aspiration of tourists worldwide

Submitted by munir on Mon, 03/04/2024 - 09:15

Tourism is one of the factors that breathes life into the extended human family, whereby tourists visiting one country after the other mark a mixture of civilizations, thus enabling them to get a close idea about peoples in various parts of the world and feel acquainted with the idea that people living in other countries have the same concerns, aspirations, and hopes for a better world.


Yet, religious tourism has a different tinge for apart from getting acquainted with other peoples’ lives and cultures, it delves tourists into a spiritual atmosphere by feeling the role divine religions play in rectifying the erring human nature.


Jordan in one of the major jewels in the world with regards to religious tourism, while it contains numerous Christian sites that are worthy to visit as they exude the aroma of holiness and beauty. This country teems with breathtaking sacred sites that attract people from all over the world.  Such sites are among the most important ones that need to be visited so as to smell the scent of sainthood and bring oneself close the land trodden by saints and mostly by Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Tourists can proceed from the location where Lord Jesus was baptized, according to the Holy Bible, to Herod’s Palace, and its numerous well-preserved holy sites that bring biblical stories to life, and preserve ancient history in the landscape and architecture.


Among the major Christian sites is the Baptism Site on the eastern side of the River Jordan also known as Bethany Beyond the Jordan. It is the  site where Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist.  Nearby is located Elijah’s Hill, where the Prophet Elijah ascended to Heaven after having stopped at the River Jordan’s waters in order to cross over to the eastern side. This area contains the remains of ancient churches and chapels, as well as pools in which John the Baptist is said to have regularly performed baptisms.


A further site includes Umm Qais, a town in northern Jordan near the site of the ancient town of Gadara, is mentioned in the Holy Bible being the location where Lord Jesus Christ performed the miracle of the Gadarene Swine. It is a Biblical story  which states that upon meeting two men who lived in the tombs near the entrance of Gadara and who were possessed by demons, Lord Jesus cast the demons out, channeling them into a herd of pigs. The pigs then ran off a cliff into the Sea of Galilee, where they drowned.


Tourists arriving in Jordan must not miss visiting Mount Nebo which is very significant because of its role in the Old Testament. According to the Old Testament, Prophet Moses saw the Promised  Land he would never enter. Because this mountain’s connection to the Moses story, it is a prominent place of Christian pilgrimage. Recent excavations on Mount Nebo have uncovered the remains of a church dating from the 4th century AD, which contains spectacular Byzantine mosaics.


Proceeding further south, one can also visit the site where Elijah was born. Elijah was born in Tishbe. which is located in Gilead, east of the Jordan River, in western Jordan, precisely where Tell Mar Elias is.


Another important site is Anjara which is located in the hills of Gilead, east of the Jordan valley where according to Christian sources, Blessed Virgin Mary and Lord Jesus Christ walked the mountain range, which runs along the Jordan, and references state that Lord Jesus, Blessed Mary, and some of His disciples stayed overnight in a cave in the Ajloun mountains nearby during one of Jesus’ trips from Jerusalem to Galilee. 


On the other hand, it is also important to note that in its capacity as a guest of honor, a Jordanian delegation has participated in the annual meetings of the Christian pilgrimage directors in Lourdes, southern France, which is the home of one of the most important Christian pilgrimage grottos, namely Our Lady of Lourdes. In attendance were more than 850 pilgrimage directors from France and several other countries.


Representing the Jordan Tourism Board, Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader said, "I have come from the Holy Land of Jordan where Lord Jesus Christ was baptized in its waters, namely at the River Jordan (the Baptism Site) by John the Baptist." He talked about the most prominent religious touristic sites, and stressed that the “pilgrims” who come to Jordan do not only visit ancient stones but rather meet with Jordanians, as well as get apprised about the spiritual experience in addition to the experience of stability and peace in Jordan which qualifies this country to welcome pilgrims and provide all logistic and pastoral assistance. He also praised the prevailing cooperation between religious tourism associations in our country, namely the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Jordan Tourism Board, the management of the Baptism Site Commission, Churches, and media which jointly form a promotional and marketing unit for Holy Jordan.


On Friday, January 12, 2024, the Catholic Churches in Jordan marked the 24th national and Christian Pilgrimage Day to the Baptism Site of Lord Jesus Christ by holding a massive ceremonial Mass presided at by His Beatitude Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.


In his address at the site, His Beatitude Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa invited pilgrims from all parts of the world to visit Jordan. He expressed gratitude with reference to the great efforts exerted by the Board of Trustees of the Baptism Site, the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism, the Jordan Tourism Board, the Baptism Site, the Churches, and all those who work in this tourism sector, which is important for the Jordanian economy, as well the building of bridges between local churches and the world churches.


Regarding French pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Jordan, on Sunday, February 25,  2024 a delegation of French pilgrims attended the Sunday Mass at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Tla’ Al-Ali, which was celebrated by parish priest Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader, and concelebrated by the deacons accompanying the delegation coming from parishes in the south of France next to Lourdes. Prior to the Holy Mass, the delegation met with Fr. Bader and Fr. Majdi Twal, who told them about the Christian youth in Jordan. Fr. Dominique, accompanying the delegation, spoke about the importance of the French Christian pilgrimage these days to the Holy Jordan, and expressed his pleasure for young people and children who attend a Holy Mass, something they miss in the churches of France.


Tourists are welcome in Jordan where there are numerous historical and religious sites they can visit and where the Jordanians welcome  their guests with open arms.

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By Munir Bayouk/