Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 24/03/2000 info: custodia@netvision.net.il
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THE POPE VISITS WADI EL-KHARRAR



Jordan Valley, Tuesday, March 21, 2000 at 3:00 p.m.

Pope John Paul II is at Wadi Kharrar. Cedrtainly many have heard that John the Baptist baptised by river Jordan. Nothing strange and locating the site in the vicinity of the southern area of the river have always been an accepted reality. But sometimes we forget the definition included in the Gospel of John which indicated the site as "Bethany beyond the Jordan". A site indicated for centuries by the Christians who in pilgrimage used to come to this site to bath in the river and renew their baptisimal vows. But certainly few know that the site being visited today by Pope John Paul II happened to be in a military zone after the six day war and thus out of limits to anyone wishing to visit. Everything changed after Summer 1995. And all started on Mount Nebo when the Franciscan Archaeologists were escorted by the military and prince Ghazi ben Muhammed, nephew of the late King Hussein of Jordan. It was the first time that somene, at that spot went beyond the Bar Lev line. A whole project was undertaken by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and excavations carried out at the valley of Wadi Kharrar unearthing remains belonging to the christian tradition. During this pilrimage the Pope arrived here in helicopter where he found a guard of honour on horseback. He stopped on a specially prepared platform to pray. The prayer opened by a short address and an invocation in which the Pope asked for the grace of God. Then the Gospel of Luke was read in which it is recounted how John came to baptize in the river. The Pope then proclaimed a prayer. (CLICK HERE TO READ THE PRAYER).

After this he blessed those present sprinkling water over them. This sprinkling of water is an ancient tradition. The ceremony came to an end by the Pope's blessing and thanking those present.



Created / Updated Friday, March 24, 2000 at 00:00:12