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Ethiopian orthodox church

ethiopian orthodox church The Orthodox Church in Ethiopia was founded by the monks Frumentius and Aedissius in the early fourth century, during the reign of King Ezana of Axum, who converted to Christianity along with many of his people. The two Syrian youths were found on a ship on the Axumite coast and taken to the king, who gave them a chance and employed them later on in the royal court. Frumentius eventually became the king’s secretary and treasurer and converted him to Chirstianity.

King Ezana later sent Frumentius to Alexandria with instructions to bring back a bishop from the Egyptian Coptic Church. Instead of an Egyptian bishop, the Patriarch of Alexandria decided that Frumentius himself would be more suited, since he knew the language and culture of Axum and had already converted many. So Frumentius became Ethiopias first archbishop; his ecclesiastical name being ‘Father of Peace´ and Christianity was declared the state religion.

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The Original Ark of the Covenant

Aba Pentilion Church in Axum For centuries the Ark of the Covenant, containing the 10 commandments, was kept in the church of Mary of Zion in Axum where emperor Iyasu is recorded to have seen it as one of the last persons in 1691.

Today it is kept in the Chapel of the Tablet, which was built especially for this purpose during the reign of the last emperor Haile Selassie. The relic is entrusted to a single guardian who serves the Ark until his time arrives and he appoints an other guardian. No one else can approach it, not even the high priest of Axum.

The first hint of the presence of the Ark in Ethiopia is found in a medieval epic written in Geez, The Glory of Kings. It describes how Queen Sheba traveled to Jerusalem to learn from the great wisdom of King Solomon. Solomon, impressed by her intelligence and her beauty, began to hope to have a child by her, something that should work out for him later on. The son, Menelik II, returned as an adult to Jerusalem to visit his father. Solomon anointed him as king of Ethiopia and instructed some of his counselors to go with him to Africa. Because the young Israelites were desperately unhappy that they would never see Jerusalem again, they decided to carry the Ark with them.

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Religious Crosses in Ethiopia

Lalibela - Processional CrossIn many aspects of Ethiopian life, no other symbol is as dominant as the cross. Crosses are used in numerous religious ceremonies, performances and festivals but also in daily life.

The Processional Cross is the largest and most elaborate Ethiopian cross and is hold by a priest above the heads of the crowd to bless it. This cross can be made of brass, silver, wood or gold and often bores a picture of the Virgin Mary. There is no limit to the imagination of the artisan.

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