Epiphany: The feast celebrated by Eastern Christians
Christians believe that the baptism, in the Jordan River, is the place where Jesus was baptized by Saint John the Baptist
Greek Orthodox Christians celebrated on Wednesday the Epiphany feast. Christians believe that al-Maghtas, meaning “baptism”, in the Jordan River, is the place where Jesus was baptized by Saint John the Baptist.
On their way back home from the river, they carry Holy water from the Jordan river. They bathe in it despite its low temperatures, believing that it protects the house from “the devil and cures diseases.”
Al-Maghtas is located in the Jordan river, setting borders between Jordan and Palestine. Israel controls its west side.
Located about 9 kilometers north of the Dead Sea, al-Maghtas includes two main archeological sites: Tel Kharrar, known as “the hill of Saint Elias” or “the prophet Elijah”, and the churches of Saint John the Baptist, near the Jordan River.
There are antiquities that date back to Romanian and Byzantine eras, such as churches, temples, small monasteries and caves that were used as shelters for hermits. There are also water ponds dedicated to baptism.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has approved on July 3rd 2015 to include this site in the World Heritage list, under the name of baptism site or “Bethany Beyond the Jordan”.