THE HISTORY ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is one of the most ancient Apostolic and Historical church in the world. The church preserves the old legacy of faith of the country which was for a very long time monotheistic and later adopted the old Testament laws together with the ark of the Covenant The earliest contact of Christianity with Ethiopia dates back !o apostolic times and is heralded in the New Testament with the Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Saint Philip (Acts 8:25-40). However, during the fourth century, orthodox Christianity was expanded and officially established as Ethiopia’s state religion in Axum. For this reason Ethiopia is the first country in Africa and the second in the world to declare Christianity as the state religion. The major contribution in the evangelization and monastic expansion was made with the arrival the “nine Saints”, which came to the ancient capital city of Axum about 480 A.D. Although the massive destruction before the end of the 1st millennium, by Yodit Gudit affected the Axumite Civilization, the church survived and restores its service again. The next era was one of the most significant times in its history, the Zagwe (Lasta) Kingdom, was the Artistic, literary and architectural renaissance of the country in which the rock hewn churches of Ethiopian were developed. After this the church with the country faced several disastrous events: however the church did not dissolve its identity and maintain its strength. As a result the Ethiopian Othodox Tewahedo Church remains the major figure for national identity artistic, literary, multiple socio-cultural contributions. There are number of historical religious and cultural heritage under the custody of the Ethiopian church including the histories of Debre Damo. Zoz Amba Georges. and Wuqir Meskele Kirsots monasteries. Is issues as a first series.
Debre Damo Abune Aregawi Monastery, Tigrai
Damo is the flat-topped mountain in the central Zone of Tigray Region (Region one) west of the city of Adigrat it is the place where the monastery of Abune Aregawi IS located. Abune Argeawi, the founder of the monastery was one of the nine saints, who came to Ethiopia from Constantinople towards the end of the fifth century (480 A.D). As a pachomiosian ascetic celibate, he chooses the place for the rest of his life, and by the permission and support of the king he organized the first monastic school Emperor Gebre Meskel, the contemporary king built for him the present church and granted him with all provision Spiritually Debre Damo is significant for more than one and half a millennium as being the place for confirmation of highest monastic rewarded, Askema. The church building is one of the very few remains of Axumite Architecture. The monastery, accessible only by rope, and like those of Greek monasteries in Mount Athos, only men are allowed to enter. The treasury is known for its collection of manuscripts and having the earliest existing church building in Ethiopia still in its original style, there are several carvings and Axumite style art pieces. The external faced of the church were built of limestone blocks and wood, the doors are of wood of magnificent decoration And an intricate carving on the beams and ceiling witnesses the high artistic achievement of the time. At times Debre Damo had also been a royal prison like Amba Gishen. Every year on the 14th day of Tiqimt, (October 24 European calendar) there is the feast of Abune Aregawi.
The Rock Hewn Church of Meskele Kirstos, Wollo
The Rock hewn church of Meskele Kirstos locally known as Wukir Meskele Kirstos Church is found in Waghimra Zone of the Amhara Region (Region 3), is bordered in east and north with Tigray in South by Northern Wollo /Lalibela/ and in west with Gondar. The founder of this population is believed to be King Lalibela one from the prominent kings of the Zagwe dynasty The Rock hewn church of Meskele kirstos is found 725 K.M away from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and only 5 kilometers south of Sekota, the capital of the zone. The name of the church is dedicated to the veneration the holy cross of Chris, the local name “Wukir” is to say of “Rock Hewn”. The church is carved from single rock. According to the local tradition in the reign of King Kaleb /495-525/. The outside faced resembles much to that of the rock hewn churches of Saint Lalibela, the windows are much to do with the Axumite symbolism as they are depicted and represented in most of the last Zagwen architectures. The Rock hewn church of Meskele Kirstos is designed with highly sophisticated skill and artistically impressive motifs. In the course of Italian Fascist invasion some of its ancient treasures and movable heritages of the church were looted, where as Wag Shum Getaneh the regional lord of the zone tried to restore it in 1951. Today the church kept numerous liturgical treasures apart from its magnificent appearance.
Zoz Amba Georgis, Gondar
Zoz Amba Giorgis is one of the rock hewn churches of Ethiopia built by King Lalibela out of his main capital, Roha, Lasta. The church is dedicated to the commemoration of the saint George the martyr who is one of the most venerated saint in the Orthodox Church. It is found in Amhara region (region 3), North Gondar zone, and 136 kilo meters away from the historic city of Gondar. Both outside and inside structures of the monastery are very similar to that of Zagewn semi- monolithic rock churches. According to the tradition, the place of was not originally made to be a monastery it was only changed into a monastery during the time Emperor Isaac in the first half of the fiftieth century by Abba Absadi. The building is attached to a huge hard rock where the interior is strongly uplifted back to its natural structure. The rock-hewn churches Zoz Amba Georgis built by Emperior Lalibela together with those in Roha, Lasta and other apart of the country are exceptionally fine examples of a very long-established Ethiopian building tradition. The magnificent environmental harmony of the building, with spectacular ecological atmosphere, Zoz Amba combines both human aesthetic perceptions, artistic excellence of the time and spiritual experience. Around the monastery there are numerous endemic plants and birds, where as inside the monastery there are liturgical treasure made out of symbolic and theological back ground.
Source : Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church