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Christians brave rain to mark Jesus’s baptism

3232Thousands of Orthodox Christians braved rain on the banks of the Jordan river on Monday to plunge into plastic tubs filled with its murky water to celebrate Jesus’s baptism.
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III led a ceremony attended by the faithful from several eastern denominations on the river marking the heavily guarded West Bank-Jordan border.
Theophilos tossed a cross adorned with flowers into the river and released doves at the site where Jesus is believed to have been baptised.
Many followers then immersed themselves in the tubs or poured buckets of water over their heads as Israeli security forces prevented them from approaching the river itself.
“This is a very important day for us as Christians, and I came with my son to baptise him at this holy place where Christ was baptised,” said Medina, 28, who came with a delegation of Eritreans and Ethiopians working inside Israel.
The event marks the Feast of the Epiphany, when Jesus began his public ministry by receiving baptism from John the Baptist.
The monastery and the riverside site where the baptism is thought to have taken place are located in what has been a closed Israeli military zone since the September 2000 outbreak of the latest Palestinian uprising.
Western Christians celebrate Epiphany on January 6, 12 days after their Christmas. The Orthodox, who continue to use the old Julian calendar, mark the date on January 18.

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