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Moses Memorial reopens on Mount Nebo after 10 years of renovation

Religious leaders highlight site’s spiritual, historical significance

By Suzanna Goussous - Oct 16,2016 - Last updated at Oct 16,2016

Religious leaders and visitors tour the site of the Moses Memorial on Mount Nebo on Saturday (Photo by Suzanna Goussous)

MADABA — Officials, church representatives, tourists and pilgrims on Saturday attended the inauguration of the Moses Memorial on Mount Nebo, where Moses is believed to have been shown the Holy Land, according to Christian and Jewish traditions.

Mount Nebo, around 817 metres above the sea level, was the place Moses saw the “Promised Land”, according to the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Deuteronomy.

As narrated by the Christian and Jewish holy books, Moses did not enter the land and died on the Dead Sea’s eastern shore in Moab.

After almost 10 years of renovations, the site, located on Madaba’s Mount Nebo, is now open for tourists and pilgrims, church leaders said at the ceremony.

Speaking at the inauguration, the envoy of Pope Francis, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, noted the importance of culture and art. 

“As Pope Benedict XVI recalled in his visit in 2008, at a time when… the history of all the people of this region [is] looted and destroyed, we wish to reaffirm here together the invaluable role of culture and art, they express the nobility of soul of men of every age,” he said.

“We are called particularly in these difficult times to make our own daily exodus… We must set out towards a new found freedom, the freedom to meet and to walk together towards a promised land.” 

In 1932, the custody of the Holy Land was brought to Jordan, under the rule of King Abdullah I, the envoy said.

“The Franciscans came to take charge of the ruins that had been [discovered] by archaeologists from the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem, despite the disruption of wars,” he noted.

The work carried out during the past decades, Sandri said, made it possible to bring to light the spiritual and historical significance the place holds. 

Custos of the Holy Land Father Francesco Patton said the site is a commitment to the origins of faiths. 

“It is not just simply a question of passion for archaeology. Archaeology is never an end in itself: it is the precious attempt to rediscover the solid foundation, the roots of our culture and of our faith,” Patton added.

He said the reopening of the religious and historical site is “to continue to believe and to live in the present while building the future”. 

“In a world in which we are tempted to forget our history, we can also lose the reasons for continuing to live and to hope.”

Returning and reliving history on Mount Nebo, Patton said, gives the impression of “rediscovering the sense of a committed and a serious journey” to pave the way for new opportunities and possibilities of hope for future generations.

Ibrahim Faltas, bursar of the Terrae Sanctae Custody, said that since the 5th century, Christians had been reading testimonies in the writings and memories of pilgrims, who narrated their visits to the Holy Land and described the “extraordinary” view on top of Mount Nebo. 

“We come here, to the summit of this mountain, and with us come tourists, visitors, and pilgrims, to have a look with Moses at the Holy Land, where the river of Jordan meets the Dead Sea, to look at Jericho and its green oasis and mountains, to Jerusalem and its hills,” Faltas said.

Father Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies, said reopening the site would encourage pilgrims, archaeologists and tourists to visit the Kingdom and see the Christian sites.

“We are proud to reopen an ancient site that holds a historical and religious significance; we celebrate its inauguration again today after a period of 10 years of renovation,” he told The Jordan Times.

“Out of our belief that Jordan is full of religious holy sites, we worked on renovating Mount Nebo, which is a main destination for pilgrims, overlooking the Holy Land and the Jordan River. We aim to continue the journey of faith,” Bader added.

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Lina Annab said the ministry is concerned with renovating and promoting religious sites 

“Today, we witness a new phase that emphasises the authorities’ responsibility and commitment to the memorial and other holy sites in Jordan,” she said.


Madaba Governor Mustafa Maayah said the governorate welcomed religious tours and that the people of Madaba, 30km southwest of Amman, had been living together in harmony for decades. 

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