Ethiopia shall stretch  forth her hands unto God   -   Psalm 68 : 31
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.

His foundation is in the Holy mountains.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of thee, O City of God.

I will make mention of Rahad, and Babylon to them that know me;
behold Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.
And of Zion it shall be said, this and that man was born in her;
and the Highest Himself shall establish her.    Psalm 87: 1 - 5
                       
                ETHIOPIAN PAINTING DEPICTING THE JOURNEY OF
                                  THE ETHIOPIAN QUEEN MAKEDA OF SHEBA'S VISIT  TO  THE WISE KING SOLOMON;
                       THE GIFTS THAT SHE BROUGHT TO HIM AND THEIR UNION WHICH PRODUCED A SON, MENELIK.








































                                                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                               
 





















































































































































































































































































































































 




The Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian Church in the world.
The Orthodox Church number more than two hundred million members.
The Orthodox Church started its history from the earliest church established by the Apostles.




                        And a river went out of EDEN to water the garden; and from there it parted into four heads . . . . The name of the second head is
                                                    GIHON, the same is it that compasseth the whole land of ETHIOPIA.      GENESIS 2:10 & 2:13

















            ~ ~ ~ We are the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve,  We are the children of GOD + Let GOD be Praised. ~ ~ ~

The late Abuna Yesehaq, gave to me these words with his blessings and instructed me to teach it to others.  In his infinate wisdom he could see by my face that I was not ready, so he smiled at me and his very next words were, "Hannah, don't worry God will let you know when and how to use it."   That was before there was anything called World Wide Web...... so I use his words now, 'cause now is the time.  He was a great and wise teacher . . . .and I am still learning from him.
May we all continue to learn,  Emahoy Hannah Mariam.               + + + Below are his words + + +



The Ethiopian Orthodox Church through the Ages has regarded the Eucharistic Liturgy as the supreme act of the communial worship whence devout believers hold intimate communion with their Living Lord, through the consecrated elements of bread
and wine.  This is not, however, the manna which Israel ate in the wilderness but it is the Holy Communion,
The Lord's Table, the Eucharist, the Flesh and Blood of Christ.
"Verily, Verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven,"  (John 6 : 32)  " This is the bread which came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna are dead: he that eats of This Bread shall live forever."  (John 6 : 58 )


The origin and structure of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is shrouded in mystery.  Although the church owes much to the sister churches and it's Hebrew heritage, it is intrinsically interwoven with the culture and tradition of the nation and Africa in general.  Nevertheless, we may safely say that it is compounded of two traditions, that of the Hebrew and Eastern Christianity.

The first being introduced as a result of the visit of Queen Makeda of Sheba, to King Solomon of Jerusalem.  The latter was introduced by Bishop Frumentius, who first administered the sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism in the country and the Nine Syrian Monks generally are credited for most of the translations of church literature from Hebrew into Geez (Ethiopian language).

Both the Hebrew traditions and the ancient Christian traditions that was handed down by Christ to His
disciples and to their successors are still dominant in the life of the Orthodox Church and these traditions
are still suspicious and reluctant to changes (as some other churches have done over the years), 
As a result, less changes have taken place in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the East or West. 

( The church instruments and worship is almost exactly the same way as it was many centuries ago.)






History of Worship :
~  E. Ullendorff (Ethiopia and the Bible Oxford University London 1968 pg.98) suggests that
"Antiphonal singing as part of the worship was an established form of the Hebrew Liturgy since the earliest times and was taken over by the Christians Churches especially in the Eastern rights of the Jacobite Syrrians and the Copts.  It is unlikely, however, that Hebraic forms were anywhere more faithfully preserved than in the Ethiopian service with its emphasis on the Debtera cantor and anthiphany".

The offices of the Debteras are in most respects comparable to that of the Levites, particularly in their role as cantors and choristers.  Most of their duty is to chant from Psalms and hymns.

The musical instruments of the Hebrew in  2nd Samuel 6 :5, which David and all the House of Israel played before the Lord on harps and lyres, drums and sistra, danceing with all their might and bringing up the Ark with the high sound of the trumpet, is still alive in Ethiopia today. 
For this and other reasons the rituals of the Ethiopian Christian traditions mingle with the Hebrew traditiona and customs.  For instance women do not come to church service after childbirth, until the days of their purification are over or until the sacrament of baptism is administered to the child.  A person who is for certain reasons, unclean cannot enter the sanctuary until he is purified.  The washing of hands before and after food and not eating the meat of animals that are prohibited in Liviticus 11, and many others are observed identically
by both the Ethiopians and the Hebrews. 
~ ~ ~  However, these and other laws of the Old Testament are not being observed merely
         because of the tradition; they are also done in respect of the law written in
         Matthew 5 : 18,  that " one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law."
Introduction of the Eucharist / Holy Communion:
Ethiopian tradition asserts that Christianity was introduced by the Eunoch who was the finance minister of Queen Candace in the beginning of the first century ( 34 A,D.)
the Eunoch being baptised by St. Philip the Apostle. (Acts 8 : 26 -39 )
He preached the Gospel around the palace in Aksum but the sacrament of Eucharist and Baptism were not performed until the arrival of Frumentius, the first Bishop of Ethiopia.

The book of the Contending of St. Tekle Haimanot tells us that Frumentius (Sidrakos)
and Adesius (also called Syrians) came from Jerusalem to Ethiopia in the beginning of the fourth century A.D..  They were well received by the High Priest Anbaron whence they grew up learning the life and customs of the country.

One day Frumentius expressed how he himself was impressed by the devotional lives of the people towards their God.  He then said to Anbarom, "My Lord, I admire the life and culture of the people.  You Ethiopians practice neither baptism nor receive communion."  Anbarom replied, "Our fathers the Levites brought us circumcision, and the Finance Minister of Queen Candace (Eunoch) brought us the faith of Christ, yet we do not have an Apostle who can administer the rite of baptism and the Eucharist, so would you please go to Alexandria."  This he did.

Then Patriarch Athanasius consecrated his Bishop and sent him back to Ethiopia. 
(329 - 356 A.D.)  He was called Abba Selama, (Father of Peace). 
He then administered the sacraments to the people. 
The High Priest himself, who was after the order of Judaic tradition, was first baptised and ordained Priest.
Since then Eucharist and Baptismal sacraments were in practice throughtout most of the country.

The EOC strickly follows the Laws of God in both the Old and the New Testament.
From the beginning of God's Creation in Genesis, God has called  Ethiopia by name, the birthplace of all mankind.  Perhaps due to racism or other biases by some people throughout history, they have tried to hide and disguise this fact.  However even recent sicentific facts have enforced what is written in the Bible and other ancient writings that this land is the LAND of GOD, THE LAND OF ALL MANKIND.   The birthplace of the oldest human,  Let us all embrace our collective history. 
Emahoy Hannah Mariam.
The Ethiopian Synaxarium states that Frumentius as well as the Syrian Monks (Nine Saints) who arrived at Axsum in the 5th century.  They are generally credited for the work of translation of the Scriptures and other literature from Hebrew, Syriac and other languages into Geez, and in propagating the Gospel and setting up the Monastic Order and schools.
There is no clear information concerning the Liturgical work either by Frumentius or by the Nine Monks. Nevertheless the complete work of translation must be attributed to the Nine Monks with respect to the effort made by Bishop Frumentius since the Eucharistic worship was in practice and since the existence of Liturgy is understood during his time.

It is said that the Nine Monks had come to Ethiopia soon after the Christological controversy at the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) During their time the Ecclesiastical Chant was created by a famous Priest (St. Yared) in Axsum.
Yared began his communications with the Nine Monks.  Abba Pentalewon, one of the Nine Monks remained in Axsum and so it was convenient for communication between himself and Yared.

From him Yared acquired much information, not only from Abba Pentalewon, but also from Abba Aregawi.
Yared composed all the music used for the Ethiopian Church's Chants.  His works are skillfully done from the Old and New Testaments.  The music speaks concerning Creation, Prophecy, and the coming of Christ, His Incarnation, Nativity, His great works, and saving acts, Baptism, Crucifixion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and His Second Coming.

Of course the music is the national expression of the ideals of the Ethiopian people and the country itself.
It is believed that some of the songs, especially from the Old Testament, have been used for singing and praying by many devoted Ethiopian churchmen before Chirst.  Therefore, we must admit the existence of the Art of Music in the Ethiopia during the Old Testament times since this was known as one of the Kushite Empire at that time.  However, all the music of the Church must be attributed exclusively to St. Yared of Aksum.




Translated from Meleket (EOTC church Bulletin) No 4 Hamle 1986 EC   By Dr. Abebe Kebede

Saint Yared was born on Miazia(April) 5, 505 AD in the city of Axum from his father Abyud (Isaac) and his mother Christina (Tawklia).

His parents were born and raised in Aksum. When Saint Yared was seven years old his father died. His mother gave the young Yared to his uncle Gedeon to raise and take care of him. Gedeon was the Gebez (Tresurer) in Aksum. School was hard for Young Yared.
He never understood the Psalms of David. Because of his terrible weakness in school, he was confronted with his angry uncle at home and occasional physical punishment. Young Yared tried to learn and understand the teachings of the church for over seven years, but he always failed. He was tired of the anger and punishment and life was becoming difficult for him.

One day, young Yared ran away. He traveled for the entire day and he came to rest under a tree. He was crying and painfully hungry. In the middle of his anger and frustration, young Yared noticed a small insect trying to climb the tree. The insect tried once, it failed. Tried the second time, it failed again. The insect tried to climb the tree six times and it failed. By the seventh time it succeeded to climb the tree and ate the fruits.
Young Yared learnt a great wisdom of God through the little insect.

He went back running to his uncle. He apologized for his behavior. He started school the next day. He finished 150 Psalms of David, the books Prophets, and King Solomon including the translations and the laws of the church.
Young Yared became a server of Zion-Axum.

Saint Yared thought us the rhythm of Aryam. While from this world, God chose Saint Yared to hear and learn the songs of the angles in the heavens. He heard something extraordinary, a song for the heart and the soul. He was amazed and mesmerized by that sound from the heavens.
He expressed his admiration by singing

Wai Zema ze-sema-Eiku
be-semaiy I-melaIkt qidusan Inze Yiblu
Qidus Qidus Qidus IgeeziAbher
MeliA Semayate We-Medre
Qidisate Sibhatike

This translates as

The Holy of Holy our Lord I heard the angles singing
Your praises saying, Holy Holy o Holy
a parise that filled the Earth and the Heavens
What a song it is
  What a rhythm it is
  What depth it has




During the reign of Emperor Gabre Maskal (550 A.D.), St. Yared compiled the famous Mezgaba Deggua (this means the hymn of sorrow which includes three main modes;

At that time, singing loudly was not allowed. One day, three birds came flying toward St.Yared.
The first bird was Green, the second bird was yellow, the third bird was red in color.
[ Exactly the same as the Ethiopian flag].
The birds exemplified the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The birds also exemplify the melodies named as

(a)  Geez - (green bird),  the first stage of the song
(b)  Uzil - (yellow bird), the second stage to be sung together with the first
(c)  Ararai - (red bird), the sorrowful song and plaintive

As indicated in Genesis Chapter 22, No 28-31, one of the birds said to Young Yared
" Yared the Great one, you are holy, the stomach that carries you is holy".
Then the birds disappeared.
Young Yared was deeply contemplating about the heavenly Jerusalem. He heard the angles gathered around God and Begna (Ethiopian Harp). Young Yared learnt the heavenly musical praise. He went back to the city of Axum and entered the church of Zion and stood in front of the Ark of the Covenant ( Tabot Tsion). He started praising the Lord by singing in GeeZ loudly

Hale luya le-Ab
Hale luya le-wold
Hale luya le- Menfes qidus
kedamiha le-Tsion Semaye sarere
webedagim arayo le-Muse
Ze-Keme yigzebir gebra le-debtera

It is translated as:
Halleluia  to the Father
Halleluia to the Son
Halleluia to the Holy Spirit
Prior to Zion God created the Heavens
God showed Moses the tent


He called this song the rhythm of Aryam (Zema Aryam). Which means a rhythm that came from the angles or the heavens. This rhythm will never be lost until the end of this world. The Gift of God can never be destroyed by man. Civilizations pass but praising of God in a heavenly manner would never cease.

God told us to praise him as do the angles, following the example of Saint Yared. The rhythm and the songs are always new. They never get old.
The word Aryam translates as "above all". We can find the word Aryam in several places in the bible. The angles sang "praise be God BeAryam", when Jesus was born from Saint Mariam. When Jesus came to Jerusalem on an Ass, the people sang "Hosanna BeAryam".

Saint Yared Musical Notation

Deret : represents the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ
Difat : Jesus came to this world
Zu : Jesus thought us
Qurt : Jesus decided/promised to save Adam from death
Yezet : Jesus was caught and beaten by the Jews
Qinat : Judah has given up Jesus to the Jews
Chiret : Jesus Christ was beaten
Hidet : Jesus was take to Hanna and to Pilatos
Rikrik : JesusRis: The prophesy told by David was realized on Friday.

His work is so intricately done with words suitable for prayers and for the glorification of God. Though he visited second Rome, his work is uniquely Ethiopian, bearing no resemblance to western notation.

Yared's hymns have been divided into four seasons of the year; 
Massow (Fall), Hagle (Summer), Tseday (Spring), and Kiramt (Winter),
and they have been planned to bring a greater sense of reality in the praise of the people.
The different sounds of chanting or music are the joy or the sorrow or the brave determination for the Christian people



+ By: Abuna Yesehaq +
St. Yared lived between the time of Emperor Kaleb and his son Emperor Gabre Maskel who succeeded him to the throne.  Tarika Nagast, which means "The History of Kings", and Gadla Aragawi state that the Emperor Gabre Maskal, Abba Aragawi and St. Yared lived in the same period as close friends.  He composed his first duties in honor of the Church of St. Mariam of Tsion at Aksum.  Then Emperor Gabre Maskal, Abba Aragawi and St. Yared traveled throughout Tigre, Begemdir and Lake Tana together. 
It is believed that the original Degguwa which can be found there was written by the hand of St. Yared himself.

After two years in Lake Tana, they went to Gaient and built the Church of St. Mariam at Zur Amba.  It is said that the Emperor, Abba Aragawi and Yared, while going to the hill on which they build the church, had difficulty in finding their way until a guide from God came to them and said to Abba Aragawi, " Zur Abba mengale misrak" which means, "Abba, turn to the east, you will find the way to the hill." 
Because of this miracle the place is now called  Zur Amba, for through the grace of God, they were able to find the right way and to build the Church there.

At this particular place St. Yared taught Zimmare and Mewasit from Psalms for three years.  Since then Zur Amba has become the seat of the Principal of the Zimmare and Mewasit faculty. 
After three years in Gaient, St. Yared came back to Aksum and Medebaytabir where he composed the chanting of the fourteen Anaphoras to be used for the Eucharistic service. 
He then went to Telemt and there he composed the Meeraf which is the Psalm of David.  He traveled to the northern patrs such as Wagara and Agew teaching and performing his duty, serving the Lord.
 
Finally, as a Holy Saint, Yared died in one of the Monataries of the north east on 19 May, 579 A.D.
(11 May Ethiopian calendar)

His Sacred works were continued by his students Baldados, Sawiros and Sandros.  Following the method and philosophy of St. Yared, these men were able to preserve his works for later generations.

According to the Book of Yared, the following students were responsible for the continuation of the work of the Saint.  They are Sawiros, Sandros, Baldados, Keffa, Gabru, Abba Gera, Abba Georgis, who was the teacher of Lisane Efarat the Debtera of Bethlehem in Begemdir province.  Lisane Eferat wrote a book of Degguwa with notation at this place.  It was written during the reign of Emperor Zera Yacob (1470) western calendar (1477).

Between the time of the reigns of Emperors Lebna Dengel and Sersa Dengel it was very difficult to find in the country and ecclesiastical books, including the Liturgical Book, because of the unfortunate destruction at the hand of Ahmed Gran who destroyed canonical and historical properties of the Ethiopian Christian Churchs with fire and other methods.  Through God's grace, however, an historical book of Degguwa written by Lisane Eferat was found at Sede Gagne Georgis near Bethlehem. 
This finding made Bethlehem to be the seat of the Principal for the Faculty of Zema, Degguwa, Meeraf and Tsoma Degguwa.  This was done by the Imperial Order of Emperor Sersa Dengel (1561). 

After Lisane Eferat the list follows with Zekale Ab, Ichege Kale Awadi, Hinsa Haimanot, Tetemka Madhin, Wolde Melekot, Sersa Mariam, Kinfe Michael, Gabre Egziabher and Gabre Madhin.

After this the work of St. Yared was found all over the country.  Original manuscripts were found in Wallo province at Debre Nagodgad Church, Atronsa Mariam and Tedbaba Mariam.  In Tigre province some were found at Abba Gerima Monastary; in Shoa province at Debre Libanos Monastary and in Gojjam province at Mertula Mariam.  Finally the Qeddasse (Liturgy) was found at Selekleka which remains the principal authority until this day.

                                                                                Anaphoras :     
            Until the 19th century the Liturgy was mainly in manuscript form, in
                                                                                handprint  on leather parchment, and has not undergone changes with the exception of individual clerymen who wrote or made copies for use in their parishes. 
Sometimes it was difficult to obtain a book for church service.
This was due to the technical difficulties of printing Amharic. 

However, in 1950 A.D.  the fourteen Anaphoras together with the preparatory service
have been published in Geez and Amharic by the order of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I.  

It was revised by Blatta Marsie Hazen
The former Patriarchs, His Holiness Abuna Basilios
and His Holiness Abuna Theophilis,
played a significant role on this important work,
both in translation and publishing.


The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewaedo Church has
fourteen Anaphoras for Divine Liturgy Service, namely :

1.   The Anaphora of the Apostles
2.   The Anaphora of the Lord
3.   The Anaphora of John, Son of Thunder
4.   The Anaphora of St. Mariam
5.   The Anaphora of St. Athanasius
6.   The Anaphora of St. Basil
7.   The Anaphora of St. Gregory I
8.   The Anaphora of the Three Hundred
9.   The Anaphora of St. Epiphanius
10.  The Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom
11.  The Anaphora of St. Cyril
12.  The Anaphora of St. Jacob of Serough
13.  The Anaphora of St. Dioscorus
14.  The Anaphora of St. Gregory II

Doubtless, this Church is one of those which has the largest number of Anaphoras.
According to the Ethiopian tradition the origins of the Anaphoras are listed as follows:  The Anaphora of the Apostles was first written by the Apostles themselves after the Assension of Christ.
Afterwards the Church Fathers made many additions to it.  The Anaphora of the Lord was given to the Disciples by the Lord Himself in His teaching as it is recorded in Acts 1:3, speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, during the forty days after His resurrection.  The Anaphora of the Three Hundred was written by the 318 Bishops, members of the first ecumenical council held in 325 A.D.

The Anaphora of John the Son of Thunder was written by John the Evangelist himself and the Anaphora of St. Mariam was composed by one of the Egytian Coptic churchmen, Abba Heryacos, who was a Bishop of the province of Behnesa in Upper Egypt.  It was said that he composed this Anaphora through the Holy Spirit, and the Virgin Mariam directed him to hand it over to Yared of Aksum who later compiled it together with the other thirteen Anaphoras.
The Structure of Church Buildings :
Churches in Ethiopia have either a round or rectangular shape in keeping with the tradition. 
It is mandatory that each Church have four entrances facing the four directions of the earth - North, South, East, and West.  All churches must have a cross on the top.
As people who have been God-fearing for thousands of years, religion is the culture of the land and churches are highly revered and purity of the sanctuary maintained.

All churches are divided into three areas. 
These areas bear names in Geez which sound like the Hebrew words. 
The first is the place where the Depteras stand and perform services before and after the Mass.
It is called Qene Mahlet and this corresponds to the Naser of the Tabernacle of Solomon's temple.

The next is the Qeddist which is generally occupied by Priests and Deacons;  to this place laypersons also have access only when partaking in communion.
This corresponds to the Qodes of the Tabernacle of Solomon. 

The innermost part is called Maqdas (Qeddiste Qedusan / Holy of Holies). This is where the Tabot (Ark of the Covenant) rests.  Only Ordained Priests have access to it.  This also corresponds to the Qodush Haggodasim of debir of the Temple of Solomon. 
During service women stand to the right and men to the left.


BETHLEHEM
Each Church has a small house, called bethlehem, built within the inner Church yard and must face east.  This house is used for the preparation of the Holy Communion, (the bread and wine used in the Eucharist).  This house is not without significance; it represents the bethlehem of Jerusalem where the Messiah was born.

St. Mariam of Tsion (Zion)  Building which houses                 the Tabot (Ark of the Covenant)
The Hebraic Influence :   Like the Eastern Christian Churches, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church did inherit the Hebraic forms of worship. 
But the tradition of the Hebrew is more preserved in Ethiopia than in any other Christian Church today. 
(Ethiopia is the only African country that was never colonized, despite attempts from Mussolini and others)
This of course, was "as a result of the visit of Queen Makeda (Sheba) to King Solomon" at Palestine, (1,000 B.C.) During which time her union with King Solomon produced King Menelik the First, who was born while she journeyed back to Ethiopia where she condemed the sun god worship as well as all other types of worship and introduced her people to the worship of the One True God of King Solomon.
Her visit is recorded in the Bible (1 Kings 10 : 1-13 )  but more details are available in the book of Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings).

It is legend, nevertheless, that the Ethiopians are deeply conscious of
and are in agreement with the statement of the Kebra Nagast.   The Kebra Nagast, states that in later years when Makeda's son Menelik I,
visited his father King Solomon, he brought the Ark of the Covenant accompanied by Azarias the son of Zadok the High Priest and all the first born of the House of Israel.  The Falasha Jews of Ethiopia, and some other natives as well, trace their origin to this day from the people who accompanied Menelik to Akum. 

The Ark today is resting in the St. Mariam of Zion Church in the city of Aksum which is the birthplace of the country's civilization and center for Christian worship. (It is in the care of the Holiest of Monks).
This is perhaps the most remarkable occasion for the introduction of the Hebrew tradition in Ethiopia.  Today every Ethiopian Church has an Ark (Tabot) on the altar, which is the focal point of worship.
Communion cannot be administered without it.
Traditional Round Church Building
Ethiopian Churches are magnificent, the genius of special architecture being applied by the architects for the glory of God.  The Churches of Lalibella (Rock Hewn), carved out of the lLiving Rock, are famous and miraculous.  The Devine, through His Angels, helped with their very construction.  The Rock Hewn Churches is unique in Ethiopia, as it is the rotund design, neither of which is found outside this country.  The round design is an art form that is the expression of Ethiopian creativity, and it's formula has not been duplicated.
The interiors of the churches are painted with religious and biblical personalities, events, and interpretations.

They are richly ornamented and beautifully painted, because of the depth of artistic expression, which is traditional, most Ethiopians and other lay people who may not know the ancient classical language of the church, which is Geez, no doubt can be converted easily and learn the Holy Bible (Kidus Metshaf) and the doctrine of the Tewahedo Church from these illustrations.
           See - Monasteries on the "Monastic Life" page

The pictures on the walls are the young's storybook, and they are easily attracted by the rich colors and plain simplicity and through this they're introduced to the teachings of the church.
Mikael Imba Church, Tigray
                     Addis Ababa - Medham Alem
                             (Ethiopian Christmas)
Miriam  Wuko Church,  at Nebelet, Tigray
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Holy Church of St. Mariam of Tsion (Zion) Aksum
The entire building is in the shape of the Cross
HistoryThe Ark of the Covenant was a great shrine that contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments that were received from God by Moses on Sinai. According to the Old Testament, the Ark was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. It measured 1.15 m long, 0.7 m wide and 0.7 m high and was carried by two long bars, also made of gold-plated acacia wood. The Ark was guarded by cherubims that "spread forth their two wings over of the place of the ark" (I Kings 8:7).

According to the Old Testament, the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant with them wherever they went, and it contained great divine power that proved fatal to many. When the Temple of Jerusalem was built, the Ark was enshrined there in the Holy of Holies and only seen by the High Priest.

At some point, the Ark disappeared from Jerusalem. The mystery of what became of such an important and sacred artifact continues to fascinate archaeologists, historians and believers alike. There are no shortage of theories as to its fate and current location, which include a Jerusalem tunnel and the top of Mt. Nebo in Jordan.

To Ethiopian Christians and Jews, the location of the Ark of the Covenant is no mystery. According to the Ethiopian royal chronicles, the Ark left Jerusalem much earlier than generally thought — in the days of King Solomon — and went to Ethiopia by the hand of Menelik, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. (The Old Testament tells of a meeting between the monarchs (1 Kings 10).

The Ark was then kept safe in Ethiopia over the millenia, carefully hidden during wars, and today it is enshrined in a special treasury next to the Church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum, Ethiopia.

The Ark of the Covenant at Axum cannot be seen by anyone but the High Priest of Axum, an elderly and especially holy monk who is charged with its care and preservation for life. He cannot leave the small yard that surrounds the chapel, and he is expected to name his successor on his deathbed. The present custodian with this privilege and burden is named Abba Tesfa Mariam.

What visitors can see is the building in which the Ark is kept. Referred to as a relic chapel or the Treasury, it also contains the cathedral's treasures such as the crowns of Ethiopian kings and silver processional crosses. The other treasures are regularly brought out and displayed for visitors, but no one is allowed inside the building.

The Treasury containing the Ark of the Covenant is located right next to the old St. Mary of Zion Church in Axum, Ethiopia. It can be viewed from a fairly close distance at any reasonable hour of the day, but the inside is not open to visitors.
SABAEAN TABLET
A small Sabaean inscription from Melazo, a pre-Aksumite site near Aksum in Ethiopia, dating from the 5th century B.C.

Carved in the elegant and ancient alphabetic script of the Sabaeans, the tablet is a short dedication which refers to Marib, ancient capitol of the kingdom of Saba, the original home of the Queen of Sheba.

According to legend, the Ark of the Covenant containing the remnants of the 10 commandments of Moses was brought to Aksum when Solomon’s son Menelik and the Queen of Sheba escaped to Ethiopia during the Persian invasion.

The inscription demonstrates a technique called boustrophodon, roughly translated as "plowing the field." The lines of text alternate direction, from right to left, left to right and so on, much like a farmer plowing a field back and forth. Most of the alphabet characters are directional, so one can see which direction to read a line by the direction of the letters.
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