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Azad-Hye Special
On Friday 16 October 2009, the blessing ceremony of Saint Garabed Armenian church at the Baptism Site in Jordan took place, held by Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Several religious and other personalities from the Armenian community in Amman and Jerusalem attended this important ceremony. The church will be built on land donated by the Jordanian state. Benefactor Dr. Vicken Garabedian will undertake the expenses of building the church. The architect is Ardag Ghoulian, supported by follow-up work by architect Dalia Khorsheed. The contractor is Mohammad Al Kurdi.
Archbishop Manougian highly appreciated the noble gesture of the Jordanian monarch in providing a piece of land to the Armenians in this sacred location, known as Jesus Christs's baptism site on Rivar Jordan.
He reminded the verdict of Sharif Hussain during the Armenian Genocide, issued with the order of protecting all Armenian refugees in Jordan and elsewhere in the Arabian desert.
The Baptism Site (Arabic: el-Maghtas) on the Jordan River is one of the most important recent discoveries in archaeology. After the 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel excavations began on this site, uncovering more than 20 churches, caves and baptismal pools dating from the Roman and Byzantine times. The location is generally believed to be the biblical Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, where John the Baptist lived and Jesus Christ was baptized.
In January 2000, more than 40,000 people gathered at the Baptism Site along with many church leaders in a massive pilgrimage. In March the same year, Pope John Paul II held an outdoor Mass at the site with thousand worshippers in attendance.
The location was given by the government of Jordan to create 12 churches and convents belonging to different Chrisitian denominations. Up to this moment 2 churches have been built, while four (including the Armenian church) are under construction.
The project will immensly promote religious tourism in Jordan. Armenian pilgrimes to the holy sites will make a stop at Saint Garabed church on the Jordanian side of the River Jordan.
Media coverage
"The Armenian community is one of the main Chrisitian communities in Jorden and it had an obvious role in enriching the Jordanian culture througout the process of building the Jordanian Kingdom" said Ibrahim Abdul Majid Al Qaisi in daily "Addustour" (Amman, 16 October 2009). "The majority of the Jordanian Armenians are Orthodox. They are one of the recognized Christian communities in Jordan. In 1930s they were performing their rituals in a small building in Jebel Al Nazif, which was used also as a school during the rest of the week. In 1968 they completed the construction of the currently functional Saint Thaddeus Church in Al Ashrafiah area", continued Al Qaisi.
Habes Al Adwan of "Al Ghad" daily noted that the event highlights the model of Jordanian religious co-existance and harmony between the followers of different religions.
Photos and text (partly) supplied by Maral Nersessian. Follow up by Araz Mahserejian.


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