HOLY FATHER ARRIVES IN BETHLEHEM
March 22nd (EWTNews) Today the Holy Father continued his tour of
the Holy Land with a private visit to Kassar El Yahoud, the
traditional site of Jesusí baptism on the west banks of the Jordan
River in Israel. During the Holy Fatherís private visit to Kassar El
Yahoud this morning, he blessed the water from the River Jordan and
sprinkled all those gathered with a hyssop branch. He then read a
brief prayer, blessed the river and area, and had a private moment for
prayer as he viewed the area where Christ was baptized on the west
bank of the Jordan.
Afterwards, the Pope then proceeded by helicopter to Bethlehem, the
hilltop town where Jesus was born. Chairman Yasar Arafat greeted the
Pope after he kissed a bowl of Bethlehem soil. The Holy Father then
rode the popemobile through the winding roads of Bethlehem, as he
proceeded to the Presidential Palace.
Later the Pope will travel to the Basilica of the Nativity in
Manger Square where the Pope will celebrate Mass. Later in the day,
the Pope is scheduled to visit the Deheisha Refugee Camp and meet with
Bethlehem is located in Palestinian territory and the population is
made up of Christians and Moslems. Among the Christians there are many rites of Catholics
-- Latin, Syrian, Melchite, Armenian and Maronite rites and Orthodox of Greek, Syrian and
Armenian. Protestants are also present in the Judean town.