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UNESCO Declares Place Of Jesus’ Baptism In Jordan River A World Heritage Site

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The place where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River was officially declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on Feb. 2.

The baptism site, officially called “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas) (Jordan), is situated on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, nine kilometers north of the Dead Sea.

UNESCO’s announcement ceremony in Paris was attended by a delegation from Jordan, including Archbishop Maroun Lahham of Medaba, the patriarchal vicar for Jordan.

Fides reported that Archbishop Lahham described the site as, “a place where the voice of Christ still resounds” in Jordan and that it was considered “a quiet and safe place in the middle of a Middle East in flames.”

“The Gospels said it 2,000 years ago, popular devotion has always confirmed it, archaeological researches have highlighted it, four popes have visited it, and today the international community will declare it officially … that Jordan is in the Holy Land. The Holy Land also and above all includes Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, but Jordan is not the less holy,” Archbishop Lahham said, according to Fides.

UNESCO noted the archaeological site consists of two distinct areas: Tell Al-Kharrar, also known as Jabal Mar-Elias (Elijah’s Hill) and the area of the churches of Saint John the Baptist near the river.

Situated in a pristine natural environment the site is believed to be the location where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist.

UNESCO noted that the area features Roman and Byzantine remains including churches and chapels, a monastery, caves that have been used by hermits and pools in which baptisms were celebrated, testifying to the religious character of the place. The site is a Christian place of pilgrimage.

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