Thursday, January 20, 2011

Minefields around Jesus' (traditional) baptism site

Thousands march past minefield to reach Jesus' traditional baptism site

By Aron Heller (CP) – 1 day ago

Just months before the official opening of one of Christianity's holiest sites to visitors, the area where John the Baptist is said to have baptized Jesus remains surrounded by thousands of landmines.

Israel says the sites visited by pilgrims and tourists in an area known as Qasr el-Yahud will be safe, but advocacy groups warn that crowds could be in danger.

On Tuesday, some 15,000 Christian pilgrims marched between two fenced-in minefields to reach the Epiphany ceremony led by the Greek Orthodox patriarch on the Jordan River, eight kilometres east of the oasis town of Jericho at the edge of the West Bank.

That said, this at least hasn't put off the President of Russia:
Medvedev visits baptism site of Jesus

Amman, January 20, Interfax - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has visited the site of the baptism of Christ on the Jordan River.

The tour around the holy place was conducted for the Russian head of state by Dia Madani, Director of the national park of the site of the baptism of Christ.

Medvedev visited the fountain of St. John the Baptist. Having carefully listened to the scholar's story, the president went down to the fountain to take several pictures.

Having taken a few pictures, he headed toward the baptism site of Christ.

After visiting the National Park, the president shared his impressions with journalists and then headed to the site where a house is being built for Russian pilgrims.

UPDATE (21 January): More here.