10 October 2017

This is the place where John the Baptist presumably began his mission

We went to Taffuh, in the Hebron area, which the forerunner of Jesus presumably visited before going to the desert.

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Various places in the Holy Land are associated with the life of St. John the Baptist; in particular, Ain Karem, his homeland, and the Jordan River, where Jesus himself went to receive Baptism.

However, there is another important place linked to the figure of the one who preceded the coming of Jesus.

The southern part of the West Bank corresponds to the territory assigned to Judah or to the Judean Tribe, whose capital was Hebron, where we stand now. Hebron, along with Bersabea, which is further south, are the places where Abraham's main homes were located.

This is the region where John the Baptist presumably began his mission. In the small town of Taffuh, just over seventy years ago, the site called 'Ain al-Ma'moudiyeh' or 'Baptismal Source' was rediscovered.

Local Archaeologist - Director
"This baptistery instantly struck me because it is the deepest one in Palestine; there is another monument associated with it. It is a church, a monastic building ... but a whole structure has yet to be discovered (...). These archaeological sites are unexplored and rare in this region. "

Padre Eugenio Alliata, ofm
Archaeologist Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"Small in size, the church has a basin with steps .... it is deep enough for people to be immersed. That is why the place was called 'Moudiyeh', which means 'immersion site'.”

The archaeological remains found in the area, however, correspond to different historical periods.

"The wall you see behind me is a medieval wall from the Crusader period. This part was rebuilt by crusaders in the twelfth century. The excavations show that there was also a period of Byzantine occupation, as can be seen in the floor of the mosaic, outside and inside the building.”

Local Archaeologist - Director
"Who knows if the monastery we are discovering was built in a place where a tradition already existed or did the monastery create this tradition to increase its prestige and attract pilgrims on the way between the sea and Hebron?"

Archaeologist Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"The remains preserved at Moudiyeh date back to an earlier period than the one in which the pilgrims began to remember the presence of Saint John the Baptist in this desert place .... It may well be that this memory had already begun in antiquity and that later was reflected in travelers, even Franciscans, in the 14th and 15th centuries.”