Project to clear mines from the site of Jesus’ baptism

Date:

Share post:

After reaching an agreement with all the Christian denominations, the British charity, the Halo Trust, has embarked on a project to clear mines and unexploded ordinance from one of the most sacred Christian sites in the world, where Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan.

Project to clear mines from the site of Jesus' baptism
View of Franciscan church in mined area of Jesus’ baptism site by River Jordan
[Credit: Halo Trust]

The one square kilometer site that contains 7 churches and monasteries has been a no-go area for almost 50 years after thousands of mines and booby traps were laid during the 1967 war. The Chief Executive of the Halo Trust, Major General James Cowan, spoke to Susy Hodges about this landmark project.

Huge Symbolism

Cowan says the Halo Trust is “very excited” about this important and hugely symbolic project to clear thousands of mines and unexploded ordinance from Jesus’ baptism site along the western bank of the River Jordan. He explained how access to this sacred site, known as Qasr Al-Yahud, with its 7 churches and monasteries, “has been denied to Christians” ever since the 6-day war Arab-Israeli war when the area was heavily mined and booby traps were planted around the churches.

Cowan explained that the Trust has been working “very hard” with both the Israeli and the Palestinian authorities and all the Christian denominations that have churches on the sacred site to acquire permission for the de-mining operation to go-ahead.  Among the 7 churches and monasteries on the mined site is a Franciscan Catholic church. He  pointed out that in 2000 ahead of Pope Saint John Paul’s visit to the River Jordan, a very small area of the mined site was cleared to allow a narrow access to the river enabling pilgrims to come and visit but said “the vast majority (of the site) remains mined.”

Sensitive Politics

Describing the project as an example of a “great ecumenical cooperative spirit”, Cowan said it’s “very uplifting” that this sacred site (where churches were first constructed in 400 AD)  is being “returned to its proper use.” He acknowledged that the negotiations with the various parties were a delicate operation as they are “all aware of how sensitive politics are on the West Bank.” One problem that still remains, said Cowan, is raising the 3 million dollars needed to complete the de-mining operations and he is appealing to all Christians to help fund this project.

Source: Vatican Radio [May 19, 2016]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Fairy circles apparently not created by termites after all

For several decades scientists have been trying to come up with an explanation for the formation of the...

Restorers cover up cracks at Shore temple

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has begun restoration of Shore Temple at Mamallapuram, about 60 km south...

Pre-Incan grave with human sacrifices found in Peru

Archaeologists working in northwestern Peru have discovered an ancient metallurgy workshop, two tombs and nine victims of human...

1,500 year old Byzantine mosaic uncovered in Israel

Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a stunning 1,500-year-old Christian mosaic that was once the floor of a church...

The star that should not exist

A team of European astronomers has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to track down a star in...

Titan is gorges: Moon features steep, liquid-filled canyons

Although Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is surrounded by a thick, hazy atmosphere, Cornell astronomers have revealed that the...

The evolutionary benefit of human personality traits

Bold and outgoing or shy and retiring -- while many people can shift from one to the other...

The Minoan palatial centre at Monastiraki, Amari, Crete

The fourth lecture of the Minoan Seminar series of 2012-2013 was given by Athanasia Kanta (23rd Ephorate of...