Dressed in white robes, the Chilean miners took part in a baptism ceremony in the Jordan River and emerged saying they felt reborn. One of the miners, Richard Villarroel Godoy, also baptized his infant son.
“Now that my baby has been baptized in the name of God in the Jordan River, I feel content,” said Godoy as he came out of the water, holding the baby in his arms.
The ceremony at the Yardenit site, where according to Christian belief Jesus was also baptized, is part of the miners’ eight-day ‘pilgrimage of thanks’ tour in Israel.
At the Church of the Annunciation, Bishop of Nazareth Msgr. Boulos Marcuzzo led the miners and their spouses in prayer, saying, “God saved you, and I welcome you to this holy place. You are an example to others, and a symbol of strength and courage, to all those of faith everywhere.”
The delegation of Chilean miners has been following a tight schedule with visits to holy sites in Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem. The miners have also met with top dignitaries and religious leaders.
In welcoming them to his residence, Israeli President Shimon Peres recited the birkat hagomel, a thanksgiving blessing said after one escapes great danger.
The president told the miners that, “The whole world followed your rescue with excitement and your unbelievable display of solidarity and love. Israel embraces you warmly and is proud to host you here in Jerusalem.”
The miners also found time to have some fun at the Dead Sea and Masada. And though they spent more than two months underground living in sludge and dirt while trapped in the San Jose mineshaft, they happily slathered themselves in mineral-enriched Dead Sea mud.
The Chilean miners captured the world’s attention by surviving 69 days in a collapsed mine last year. Their amazing rescue turned them into overnight heroes.
Since then they have enjoyed free trips around the world, but for many of these men their visit to the Holy Land has been the most uplifting.
“We thank God for the opportunity he gave us to visit Israel, one that filled all of us with great joy. Today, we all say thank you to the people of Israel and we are hopeful that God will bless Chile and Israel. The connection between our peoples will benefit from God’s blessing,” said miner Raul Enrique Bustos.