In 1936, as part of a project to ennoble and equip the Holy Places, the British government of Palestine allocated several plots of land to the Christian denominations in the Holy Land on the western bank of the Jordan River, not far from the place of the Baptism of Our Savior.

A member of the ROCOR Synod, Archbishop Anastassy (Gribanovsky), overseer the affairs of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem (and future First Hierarch of ROCOR), purchased a site for the Mission. The size of the plot was about 10 000 sq. meters. Later, a small house for a caretaker was built on the site by the Russian Mission, and a chapel was placed in the middle of the site.

Abbot Ignaty (Raksha +1985), an agronomist for the REM, planted a large vegetable garden on the site. For irrigation, water from the Jordan River was pumped to the site. To this day, the water supply system built by Father Ignaty has been preserved. Even though the area around the Jordan River is desert, with proper cultivation of the soil and regular watering, the land becomes fertile and various crops grow abundantly on it.

The sisters of the REM monasteries, pilgrims and Russian people living in the Holy Land often visited the site. But it was especially crowded on Theophany Eve when Orthodox Christians from all over Palestine flocked to the Jordan.

After the 1967 war, the land of the REM was closed to the public for a long time. The fact is that it ended up in the demarcation zone between Jordan and Israel. Due to the military confrontation between the two countries, until 1994 when a peace treaty was signed, the entire perimeter of the border along the Jordan River was heavily mined, including the REM ROCOR section and other lands in the area. In 2017, the Israeli Ministry of Defense, together with the HALO TRUST International Foundation, began a project to clear the mines and unexploded ammunition shells from the entire territory around the Baptismal site, including the Russian section. In 2019, the entire territory within a radius of 10 kilometers was thoroughly cleared of mines.

On January 10, 2022, Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky), Head of the REM ROCOR, met with the leadership of the administration of Judea and Samaria. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Israeli army, the administration of Judea and Samaria, the Department of Nature Protection and National Parks of Israel, and members of the REM ROCOR. The meeting was devoted to the inspection of the site, the preparation of the blessing of water prayer, which should take place on January 19, 2022, and plans for the development and use of the site in the coming years. Plans were discussed to carry out the necessary repair and construction work for the resumption of worship and the reception of pilgrims in the Russian site.

Speaking with the commander of the Jericho district, Lieutenant Colonel Amos Twito, Archimandrite Roman emphasized that during this visit it was especially touching to realize that for the first time in over 50 years we had the opportunity to visit this historical and holy place of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission.


Tags: ,