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Prophet Elias’ remembrance brings together Greek Orthodox pilgrims to ancient site in Ajloun

By Hanna Davis - Aug 07,2021 - Last updated at Aug 08,2021

A Mass was celebrated at the Tel Mar Elias site in Ajloun Governorate to commemorate the birth of Prophet Elias on Friday (Photo courtesy of JTB)

AJLOUN — Over 200 Greek Orthodox Christian pilgrims from across the Kingdom on Friday attended a Mass at the Tel Mar Elias site in Ajloun Governorate to celebrate the birth of Prophet Elias.

The pilgrims stood on the ancient floors of the Byzantine church site; the same ground Christians prayed on almost 1,400 years ago, according to information available at the site. 

The Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) cooperated with churches across the Kingdom to help pilgrims witness the spirituality and authenticity of the site, according to JTB Managing Director Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat. 

Archaeological excavations between 1990 and 2002 discovered two churches dating back to the sixth and seventh centuries AD. According to inscriptions found on mosaics at the site, the old priest Saba inaugurated the larger church in 622 AD, in honour of Prophet Elias. 

Prophet Elias lived in the ninth century BC and is mentioned in biblical narratives and in two places in the Holy Koran. The prophet is believed to be born in the ancient village of Tishbe, which is associated with the Tel Mar Elias site. 

Many church leaders have announced the site as an important pilgrimage destination, Arabiyat told The Jordan Times.  

Tamam Haddad, an elderly member of the Greek Orthodox Church originally from Madaba, said that she “felt the spirituality of the church” during the mass and is “very happy” the church can now hold gatherings at the holy site after two years of pandemic closures. Haddad said that she attends every Mass at Tel Mar Elias. 

Her daughter, Diana Haddad, who now lives in Amman, said that she “loves it here” and is also grateful for the Masses at the historical site. 

At the end of the mass, Archimandrite Vindictus Kayal thanked the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the JTB, the site’s administrator Saed Smadi, the security personnel and the governor of Ajloun for making the event possible. 

“It is our great pleasure to be in this holy place. We are all blessed from this holy site and the liturgy,” the archimandrite said to the congregation. 

The JTB plans to continue helping pilgrims from Jordan and around the world access Jordan’s numerous holy sites, according to the director. 

 

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