Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli prays at Jesus' baptism site in Jordan
Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli made a pilgrimage to the traditional site of Jesus' baptism in Jordan on Monday, praying for peace as he stood on the edge of the River Jordan.
Bocelli, 58, who is blind, was guided by a priest who scooped up river water and poured it over the star singer's hands.
The Italian artist, a Roman Catholic, made the sign of the cross as the priest recited the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer.
The spot represents the "roots of my faith," Bocelli told The Associated Press. "For this reason, it is a very special place. I am very happy to be here. I prayed for peace in the world."
Bocelli later performed at the famed Roman amphitheatre in the northern city of Jerash, serenading the crowd with popular arias as well as pop music standards.
Wearing the red-and-white keffiyah draped over his shoulders, Bocelli finished his performance with his world-wide famous hit "It's Time to Say Good-bye" (Con Te Partirò).
Jordan hopes global superstar headliners like Bocelli will help revive a tourism industry that has been flagging in recent years amid regional war and turmoil.
The kingdom often portrays itself as an oasis of stability.
Jordanian Tourism Minister Lina Annab earlier told the AP that the baptism site is as important to tourism in the country as the ancient city of Petra.
"It is very nice to see devout people, especially of the stature of a great artist like Andrea Bocelli, to be coming to this site, and I think it brings a very nice vibe to the place," she said.
Annab said the spot is "full of harmony, full of peace, full of spirituality." Having someone like Bocelli visit "only adds to the beauty of it," she said.