Prior to the Six Day War, the land between what is now Route 90 in the West Bank and the Jordan River was home to a number of monasteries.
Armenian priests stood in two different countries but chanted the solemn epiphany service together from both sides of the Jordan River on Sunday.
“Physically we are divided,” Chancellor of the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Koryoun Baghdasaryan told The Jerusalem Post after the ceremony.
“But on this feast, spiritually all of the Armenians both the Armenians of Jordan [on] the other side of the river, and the Armenians of the Holy Land here – and the Armenians communities from different diasporas they are together.
“Spiritually they are united. Despite the physical division, they are together on this feast,” he said.
Baghdasaryan wore a black frock and hood. He held his hands apart and then brought them together as he spoke to emphasize the unity had he just experienced.
He stood in a historic spot in the National Park and Nature Reserve site at Qasr al-Yehud, where John is said to have baptized Jesus, an event the epiphany service marks.
Historically, Christians have made pilgrimages to the site. Baghdasaryan said the Armenians have been doing so since the fourth century, when they established a presence in the Holy Land. There were times, he said, when the ceremony would be held on a boat in the middle of the river.