Epiphany, Annual Day of Pilgrimage to be Celebrated
Christians are converging on the east bank of the Jordan River at the biblical site of Bethany on Friday to mark the feast of Epiphany and the Annual Day of Pilgrimage. According to the Baptism Site Commission, the body in charge of developing and maintaining the biblical site, there will be three consecutive celebrations between Jan. 9 and Jan. 23.
The first ceremony brings together members of the Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Anglican, Evangelical, Lutheran, Chaldean, Maronite, and Copt churches, said Dia Madani, director of the Baptism Site Commission.
“Pilgrims will meet at the Baptism Site at Tell Kharrar, beginning at 8:00am on Friday, and will head by bus to the Jordan River at 11:00am,” Madani said.
In the Eastern churches, the feast is known by two names: Epiphany and Theophany.
It is celebrated “to commemorate the birth of Christ, his baptism in the River Jordan, and the adoration of the Magi (the three wise men mentioned in the Bible),” Reverend Nabil Haddad of the commission told The Jordan Times.
“Christians celebrate in this feast, Christ’s mysterious union with humanity – a union of faith and love, leading men to a new spiritual life through baptism,” Haddad explained.
The early church highlighted the celebration of the Feast of the Theophany by celebrating the baptisms of catechumens (those who receive religious instruction in preparation for baptism) in great numbers. Today, this feast includes the “Great Blessing of Water.” Water is considered a source of physical life as well as the life in Christ through baptism, the reverend continued.
The Greek word “Theophany” means “God’s appearance” or “God’s manifestation.”
The commission said the Roman Orthodox Church is expected to celebrate Theophany at the site on Jan.16, and the Latin patriarchate on Jan. 23.
“A special prayer ceremony will be held at the Church of St John The Baptist, at the site on Jan. 18.” Madani said.
The commission said it has completed preparations to host the pilgrims, including enough parking spaces, trails on which the pilgrims will walk to the baptismal pools, and appropriate baptism basins.
“On this occasion, we are expecting around 5,000 to 6,000 pilgrims to take part in this important celebration, weather permitting,” Madani added.
By Yousef Hasanat
eTurboNews Petra, Jordan