MONKS

NUNS

SAINTS / HERMITS

MONASTARIES                                                                                                                The Late Abuna Yesehaq
And the Angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying rise up, and go toward the south unto the way that goes down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

And he arose and went; and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a Eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure and had come to Jerusalem for to worship.
Acts 8 : 26-27
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.
Ethiopia has a long tradition of Holy men, Holy women, Saints and Monasteries.  "Monastic life is the last life."
- EmaHoy Firkerte Mariam Bekele -Sebata Monastary

Monastic life is the wisdom of the Christian law, and monks are earthly angels or heavenly people, followers of Christ as much as it is humanly possible...
                                      Fetha Nagast chapter 10 :1
THE STATUS OF A MONK / NUN
Fetha Nagast chapter 10 :1

Monastic life is the wisdom of the Christian law, and monks are earthly angels or heavenly people, followers of Christ as much as it is humanly possible to be and emulating His Apostles in every deed by giving up world goods, by giving up pleasure, and by despising everything, themselves included, to obey Him and love Him. 

They fulfill the precept that He prescribed to those who are eager to be perfect.  They love only Him, more than their parents, their children and wives, and more than riches. 

They are blessed for the calm they achieve by avoiding the troubles of this life ~ a calm they achieve voluntarily ~ and because they escape and are saved from the final and eternal punishment. 

They are blessed, and greatly blessed, because a dwelling in the Heavenly Kingdom is prepared for them as a reward for the transitory troubles they willingly bear.
REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A MONK / NUN

1. Our Lord Eeyesus Kristos has said: "Will thou be perfect ? Go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven;  and come follow me."  (Matt. 19: 21)
He said this to the person who said to Him:  "What shall I do that I may have eternal life?"  (Matt. 19:16)

Our Lord said to his disciples:  "He that loves his father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he that loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 
And he that does not take up his cross and follow  Me is not worthy of Me."  (Matt. 10 : 37- 38)
REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A MONK / NUN
Fetha Nagast chapter 10 : 2 - 4

2.  He who has an evil spirit shall not take up monastic life.  If someone desires to become a Monk without the permission of the Bishop who has jurisdiction over him, he shall not be accepted in the monastery, in case he does it as a pretext (to abandon) his wife, children, mother, and the like.  Whosoever does this under the pretext of serving God shall be excommunicated.
~ If a man is married and his wife does not agree that he become a Monk, then he is forbidden to do so.
~ If a man is still young and under the care of his parents and they do not wish him to become a Monk, then he is forbidden.
~ Likewise it is forbidden for parents to force their son into monastic life or for a father to dress his daughter in monastic dress; but she can devote herself of her own will.   Monastic life must be embraced voluntarily.

3.  What a monk must do with his wealth before entering monastic life:
Whosoever wants to become a monk may dispose of his property as he likes before becoming a monk, because once he becomes a monk, all his property goes to the monastery.


4.   THE SIX (6) OBLIGATIONS OF MONKS / NUNS

(1).   The first is to give up marriage, to be celibate.  There are some Monks (Nuns) who never married and there are those who were married
        but are widowed, or leaves their husband / wife later on.  In later years both husband & wife can decide to devote themselves to
        monastic life.
  
      +  As for the first, they are those of whom Our Lord has said;  "There are Eunuchs who have made themselves Eunuchs for the
          Kingdom of Heaven."  (Matt. 19 :12)
  
      +  The second have adhered to His words which say:  "Every man who has given up marrigage  for My sake shall have eternal life."
          (Matt. 19 : 29)   And their voluntary solitary life in this world is aimed at living in accordance with the words of Our Lord which were
          spoken with respect to them: "In the resurrection, they shall neither marry or be married, but shall be like Angels of God."










































(2)   The second is to leave one's blood relatives, riches, and worldly pleasure, as was spoken by Christ.

(3)   The third is to dwell in the monastery or to spend their lives in service to the sick and the poor.

(4)   The fourth is to abstain from meat unless it is absolutely necessary, and to eat sparingly what is ordered for the
       health of the body and similar things.

(5)   The fifth is that the brothers (sisters at their separate monastery) shall live together as a single soul, as stated by Basil in his homily, and shall have one thought only in their bodies.  Even if they are many in body, their chief is only one, namely God.
Who unites them into this single soul, which is made one by the bond of love.  Each one of them lives not only for himself, but for another, to please God.  They serve one another equally and voluntarily, as a result of which peace reigns among them.  Each one takes the work of the other and there is none among them who suffers injustice. 
Therefore they inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.  Their mind is united in perfect obedience, to God and to the
Abbot (Ichege/head of men monastery) or Emahoy (head of women monastery) and they live as they will in the life which will come at the end of time.


             





















            Only a Monk~Priest that was never married can be ordained to Bishop and higher rank of clergy.










        












































































 
































































































































































































































































































 















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































~ NUNS ~ and Pious Widows
  Fetha Nagast chapter 10 : 8

+ If a woman's husband dies, she is at liberty to become a Nun.   And blessed shall
  she be to remain in the spirit of God.   As Peter said, three widows (un-married
  women) shall be appointed.        
+ Two of them shall give all their time to prayer for all those who are in tribulation and
  desire to know what will come to pass.

+ The third shall stay with women who visit the sick, and the poor, who hasten to give
  assistance to them, who watch over  them, and who inform the priests of what happens

+ She shall not be greedy for personal gain, neither shall she be one who gets drunk,
  lest she becomes lazy during the service she renders at night.

+  A widow must be tested for one (1) year to be certain of her choice, then she will be
  appointed only verbally, for she offers no priestly service; she shall vow to not marry &
  to serve together with other Nuns.
  The sign of the cross is made over her which means she will dedicate herself to prayer
  and service to Our Lord.

A widow is appointed when she reaches sixty years of age, to give her strength to avoid a second marriage.  Young widows are not encouraged to join the Nuns lest she be overcome by the weakness of her nature.  As she is still young she might remarry, and thus become an object of the devil's laughter.
If  she takes another husband after making a vow, she commits a sin and incurs great punishment. 
"Monastic life is the last life."
- EmaHoy Firkerte Mariam Bekele - Sebata GateSemani Monastery
Painted Wooden Headrest / Pilllow
           scroll over image to see effect
(6)  The sixth is that a Monk / Nun dedicates their lives to fasting and prayers, to fatigue and labour, remembering God constantly, reading His Holy Books, learning the interpretation of them, reading the lives of His Saints to be like His beloved, meditating on the perfection of His Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; 3 in 1, and 1 in 3), the greatness of His work, His primordiality, the beautiful order of His creation, how He rules the creation in one way with no interruption, and the wonders of His ruling. 

With this in mind, Monks keep their bodies far from worldly things which may impede them from obeying, and restrain their tongues from words that are useless both to him who utters them and to him who hears them.

They shall keep their external senses closed to what is improper to think or say, so that nothing will come to their minds except good deeds.
They shall control the internal senses with which the mind works and imagines. Their minds shall not remember or think of or retain things other than those mentioned above.
Monk Reading  the "Dawitt"
THE BAHETAWE'S / HERMIT MONKS / SAINTS  OF ETHIOPIA
Ehiopian Headrests used  Batawe Monks / Hermits
Some Ethiopian Headrests used  by Bahetawe Monks / Hermits
A person's headrest becomes a part of them and is carried everywhere. It sometimes substitutes as a seat or a stand to keep their ceremonial headdress/hat off the ground.  It is often buried with the owner or given to their heir, who then greatly respects it as it has the spirit of their loved one.
Bahetawe's are Holy Monks who live as Hermits apart inside a monastery on the grounds or apart from people completely, traditionally in the country sides of Ethiopia and sometimes in caves. 
There are even a couple of known Ethiopian Bahetawe's that traveled to the Island of Jamaica, West Indies, and lived secluded in the lush hills of the Jamaican country side.

The Bahetawe/Hermit traditionally allows all his hair on his head to grow long naturally (not just his beard, as regular monks do), as the Holy fathers of the Bibles did; so their hair becomes dreadlocks.  These are the Holy Monks that Rastafarian's in Jamaica imitated both in appearance, dietary laws for Monks and tradition of prayer.

Rastafarians in the early days traditionally also only lived in the lush hills of the Jamaican country side and spent their days working on the land and studding the Bible, apart from the regular Jamaican society (Babylon). They also study the teachings of the ancient Christian laws written in the Fetha Nagast
Today not all Rastafarians live their lives as Bahetawe/Hermit Monks, but many still do and all true Rastafarians study the Bible daily and follow the Christian laws of God /Jah.
(Jahovah~ Psalm 83: 16 -18) 

Many Ethiopian Saints lived their earthly lives as Bahetawe / Hermit Holy Monks.
                                                                 SAINTS OF ETHIOPIA
We address Angels as Saints.  We call them so since they are free from all evil things, they act and go in God's way and praise Him.  Blessed people who have attained angelic status are also called saints. 
God Himself has said " Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am Holy "   (Liv. 19 : 2 ; 1 Peter 1 : 15 -16). 
Prophets, Apostles, Saints, and Martyrs have been accorded the honour of holiness and beautitudeness for they gave their lives for the sake of God, for they bore witness in His name, and served Him faithfully to the end of their lives with all their energies and capacities.  Saints are given favours by God because of their sacrifices made in this world.
The church honours saints on the basis of the covenant that was given to them by God.  The faithful beseech them.  They build churches in their names, and commemorate their saintly lives.
          Archangel  Michael
      Archangel  Gabriel
           Saint Georgis
  Debre Libanos Monastary &
              Church in Ethiopia
             DEBRE DAMO Cliff MONASTARY
                        accessible only by rope
Debre Libanos Monastary outside Addis Ababa
   MONASTARIES  and  CHURCHES
The monastery complex sits on a terrace between a cliff
and the gorge of one of the tributaries of the Abbay River.
None of the original buildings of Debre Libanos survives.

Current buildings include the church over Teklye Haimanot's tomb,
which Emperor Haile Selassie ordered constructed in 1961;
a slightly older Church of the Cross, where a fragment of the True Cross is preserved; and also five religious schools.  The cave where the saint lived is in the nearby cliffs.  This cave contains a spring, whose water is considered Holy Water (Tsebel),                                                        
                                                       Some of the water is directed down from the cave to a public bath building, where
                                                       people go to bathe in the Tsabel and also to collect in bottles for drinking. 
                                                       The cave is the destination of pilgrims, and a monk-priest lives there around the clock.

                                                       The original route to Debre Libanos was through a cleft in the cliffs that line the eastern
                                                       side of the Abay.  In the later 20th century a road was laid from the main Addis Ababa -
                                                       Debre Marqos highway to the monastery; it is a little more than four kilometers long.
                                                       This simple dirt road is lined with monks and nuns at all times walking to and from the
                                                       monastery.  Most of whom live in small simple houses in the areas around the church.
Debre Libanos is a monastery in Ethiopia, lying northwest of Addis Ababa in the Oromia Region.
Founded in the thirteenth century by Saint Tekle Haimanot.
The monastery's chief abbot, called the Ichege, was the second most powerful official in the Ethiopian Church after the Abuna.
Lalibella complex of a dozen rock-hewn churches often and justifiably ranked as the eighth wonder of the ancient world.

The churches stand today as an inspirational and active shrine to a Christian civilization that predates its northern European equivalent by centuries.
Saint Teklye Haimanot is the most famous Saint in Ethiopia, and he is the only human on earth given wings!  It is good to note here that Saint Teklye Haimanot is one of the very few saints that Christians celebrate their birthday.   He performs many miracles daily in the lives of His children, and we touch it everyday in His Church.

He founded in 1284 the monastery of Debre Atsbo (renamed in the 15th century Debre Libanos). This monastery became one of the most important religious institutions of Ethiopia, not only founding a number of daughter houses, but its abbot became one of the principal leaders of the Ethiopian Church called the Echege, second only to the Abuna.

Tekle Haimanot lived for 29 years after the foundation of this monastery, dying in the year before Emperor Wedem Arad did; this would date Teklye Haimanot's death to 1313.
He was first buried in the cave where he had originally lived as a hermit; almost 60 years later he was reinterred at Debre Libanos. In the 1950s, Emperor Haile Selassie constructed a new church at Debre Libanos Monastery over the site of the Saint's tomb. It remains a place of pilgrimage and a favored site for burial for many people across Ethiopia.

Teklye Haimanot is frequently represented as an old man with wings on his back and only one leg visible. Ethiopian tradition states that the saint  stood on one foot for seven years in prayer until one leg broke off.

One day he said he would go to Jerusalem to see the Garden of GethSemane and the hill of blood that is called Golgotha. However Satan tried to stop him from making the journey to the Holy Land, and as The Saint climbed down on the rope which led from the monastery on the hill, Satan cut the rope, as he fell towards the ground the other monks watched and prayed, then God saved him and gave Teklye Haimanot six wings and he flew down to the valley below ... and from that day onwards Saint Teklye Haimanot would fly back and forth to Jerusalem above the clouds.
St. Georgis Cathedral is a small octagonal Ethiopian Orthodox church in Addis Ababa.

The cathedral was built in 1896 as a token of thanks to St. Georgis, whose relic was carried into battle against invading Italians at the Battle of Adwa. The Ethiopians won, marking the only time an African army defeated Europeans in a major encounter.

In 1930 this church was the site of the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie, who is the focus of Rastafarian devotion and also known as The Defender of the Faith.  He was crowned King of Kings, Elect of God, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The church is a place of pilgrimage for many people, Ethiopians and Rastafarian's.

The coronation throne of Emperor Selassie is on display, and there is a small museum whose exhibits include the garb worn in the battle: huge helmets made from lion's heads.
Inside, the cathedral is tiny, seating maybe 200.
          ST. GEORGIS CATHEDRAL
In 1955, to mark his Silver Jubilee, Emperor Haile Selassie founded a new Church of St. Mary of Zion next to the old one. It was completed in 1964. Emperor Selassie interrupted the state visit to Ethiopia of Queen Elizabeth II to attend the dedication of the Cathedral. The British monarch visited St. Mary of Zion herself a few days later. Unlike the original St. Mary of Zion, the new St. Mary of Zion allows entrance to women.

In 1965, Emperor Haile Selassie built a relic's chapel next to Old St. Mary's to hold the church treasures and the revered Ark of the Covenant.
Axum was in the battle zone during the liberation war against the central government in the 1980s. Marxist forces plundered 83 churches in the area and killing a number of priests.
Inside the church is a vestibule, and beyond that is the Holy of Holies, closed to everyone but the priests. Male pilgrims cannot go beyond the vestibule and women are confined to the courtyard.
Debre Birhan Selassie was built by Emperor Eyasu II (also known as Birhan Seged, "He to Whom the Light Bows") in the 17th Century. It was named Debre Birhan, "Mountain of Light," after the Emperor's name, as well as in honor of the church of the same name in Shewa.

At the Debre Birhan Church in Shewa, a miraculous apparition of the Holy Light of God occurred in the Middle Ages during the reign of Emperor Zera Yacob the Great.
In exchange for the right of using its name, the Gondar church paid the Shewan church an annual tribute.
Above the floor of the church are the curtained windows of the second story stall from which Emperor Eyasu II and his mother Empress Mentewab would look down at the ceremonies. 

When the Mahdist Dervishes of the Sudan destroyed the city of Gondar in 1888, they burned down every church in the city except Debre Birhan Selassie. When the Mahdist soldiers approached the church, a swarm of bees descended on the compound of the church and kept the soldiers back, and the Archangel Michael himself stood before the large wooden gates with a flaming sword drawn.

Ethiopia is truly a blessed land with numerous blessed churches and Saints, therefore this page is still a work in progress.

I hope what we have presented so far on this page has given you a good picture of what is.  I also hope that you see that the "Land Of God, The Garden of Eden" is much more than famine and orphans. 
Perhaps you will be inspired to make your own pilgrimage, for Ethiopia's history is your history.

It is also our mission to fulfill Abuna Yesehaq's vision of building Monastic Orthodox Churches in Jamaica and the southern part of the USA.  They will serve as a retreat and home for the Monks and other Clergy, as well as a spiritual retreat for lay people. 

Abuna Yesehaq loved the lush mountains and country side of Jamaica because it reminded him of Ethiopia.  It's many rivers and tranquil waterfalls makes it an ideal place to build an Ethiopian Orthodox Twahedo Church Monastery and Spiritual Retreat.  We are currently researching land in St. Anns, Jamaica
and have began fund raising efforts to purchase property in Miami, Florida area.  Traditionally monasteries are built in mountainous regions, however the Miami area was chosen because of it's tropical year-round warm climate.

This we pray that by the Will of God and the hands of man, it will manifest.  So as it's been said already, now let it be done.

May God bless you all continually.
Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa commemorates Ethiopia's liberation from five years of Italian occupation. It is also the second most important place of worship in Ethiopia (after St. Maram in Axum), and the highest ranking of Addis Ababa's four Orthodox cathedrals.
My first visit to Holy Trinity Church was a very spiritual and everlasting experience. I have visited the Vatican in Rome, and although I can appreciate that beauty, it just does not compare to the immense pure spirituality that you feel when you enter a cathedral in Ethiopia. (Princess Hannah Mariam)

The Church of the Holy Trinity was founded by Emperor Menelik II soon after he moved his imperial capital from Mt. Entoto to Addis Ababa. The original church, built of wood with intricate carvings, was constructed with the help of artists from India. Located close to the Imperial Palace, it was frequently visited by the royal family.
In 1928, a cornerstone was laid by Empress Zewditu for a new cathedral to be built. Work progressed slowly and was halted during the Italian occupation of 1936 to 1941.

The new Cathedral would not be completed until 1942, after the return from exile of Emperor Haile Selassie following the Italian occupation.

Trinity was made the burial ground for those who fought against the Italians both inside the country and in exile. No other persons, other than high clergy, are allowed to be buried on the grounds of the Cathedral itself (although there are a public cemetery and a public mausoleum behind it). Emperor Haile Selassiebuilt a mausoleum for his family in the crypt under the Cathedral, and the Imperial family continue to use it as their tomb.
Holy Trinity Cathedral has been the site of many great church and state ceremonies, including the enthronements of the Patriarchs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the consecration of all Archbishops and Bishops.

The cathedral features statues of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on it's courtyard walls. The is adorned with traditional church iconic paintings and beautiful stained glass windows.

Flags of the various branches of the Imperial Armed forces hang in the nave, and Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife, Empress Menen, mausoleum are in a special chapel in the north transept.
The burial space directly in front of Holy Trinity Cathedral is reserved for those entitled to the highest honor from the church, and requires special permission of the Patriarch. So far only  His Highness Ras Imiru Haile Selassie (Regent of Ethiopia during the Occupation), Mrs. Sylvia Pankhurst, and Lt. General Merid Mengesha have their tombs in this space.
A monument to Abune Michael who was executed by the Italians also stands here
(his remains were never recovered).

To the south of Holy Trinity Cathedral is a martyrs' memorial and mausoleum containing the remains of the 60 officials of the Imperial government who were massacred by the Derg on November 23, 1974.

The old Church of the Holy Trinity remains a part of the cathedral complex and still functions as a church. It is now called Bale Wolde (Church of the Feast of God the Son) or Arbaetu Insesat (Church of the Four Heavenly Creatures).
The High Altar is dedicated to Aga-iste Alem Kidist Selassie (Sovereigns of the World, the Holy Trinity), the altar to the right is dedicated to St. John the Baptist and the altar on the left to
Our Lady Covenant of Mercy (Kidane Meheret). 

To the North and south of the Cathedral are two tombs containing the remains of those massacred by the Italians following the attempt on the life of the Fascist Viceroy in 1936.
In the 300s AD, the Church of St. Mary was first built in Axum. This church stood for hundreds of years and was seen by a Portuguese friar shortly before its destruction in the 16th century. Francisco Alvarez wrote this in his journal:
In this town Axum, we found a noble church; it is very large, and has five naves of a good width and of a great length, vaulted above, and all the vaults are covered up, and the ceiling and sides are all painted; it also has a choir after our fashion. This church has a very large circuit, paved with flagstones, and it has also a large enclosure, and is surrounded by another large enclosure like the wall of a large town or city.
Some experts believe this great church in Axum served as the model for Bet Medhane Alem, one of the most impressive of the rock-carved churches in Lalibela.
Axum was the first Christian kingdom in the world and the largest outside the Roman Empire. Situated on the caravan trade routes to Arabia, Nubia and Egypt, Axum traded as far away as Greece, Rome and Constantinople.
In the later 5th century, Christianity was spread throughout the general population by missionaries.
The missionaries adhered to the Monophysite doctrine of Christ's nature, (One Divinity) after it was branded heretical in 451 by the Council of Chalcedon, a doctrine that remains part of Ethiopian Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox Christianity today.
King Ezana promoted Christianity and he is regarded as a saint in both the Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholic churches.
In the 6th century King Kaleb made Axum a great military power and had the role of protector of Christians in the region, including Arabia. Kaleb conquered several small Jewish kingdoms in Arabia.

In 1635, St. Mary of Zion was reconstructed by Emperor Fasilidas on the ruins of the church that had been destroyed by the Muslims, and this is the church that stands today. In the mid-1500s, the forces of Ahmed Gragn "the Left Handed" had swept across the Horn of Africa from Harar in the east, for a time threatening the extinction of Ethiopian Christendom.

The destruction and rebuilding of the church has become an important part of its meaning for Ethiopians. Surrounded by Islamic countries, overrun several times, and brought to the brink of extinction, Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity regards itself as a bastion against Islam.

St. Mary of Zion's rise from the ashes symbolizes the struggles and triumphs of not only the church, but the nation of Ethiopia. The emperors of Ethiopia were all crowned here.
Until the 1930s, criminals could receive sanctuary in the church precincts by ringing the bell on the porch.
The most sacred shrine in Ethiopia is the 17th-century Church of St. Mariam (St. Mary) of Zion in Axum, which stands next door to the chapel housing the
Ark of the Covenant. Nearby is the newer and larger church, also called St. Mary of Zion.
Although the present building is relatively new, the Church of St. Mary of Zion has impressively ancient roots.
During services, the small church is quickly overwhelmed by the crowds of worshippers, whose sonorous chanting rises and falls in a wave of sound. When the priests emerge from the Holy of Holies to carry the Gospel book in procession or bring the Eucharist to the people.

    SAINT MARIAM of TSION CHURCH
                               AKSUM
St. Mariam of Zion Church in the city of Aksum which is the birthplace of the country's civilization and center for Christian worship.
The small town of Lalibela in Ethiopia is home to one of the world's most astounding sacred sites: 11 rock-hewn churches, each carved entirely out of a single block of granite with its roof at ground level.

History of  The town of Lalibela was originally known as Roha. It was renamed after the 12th-century King Lalibela, who commissioned these extraordinary churches. Lalibela was a member of the Zagwe dynasty, which had seized the Ethiopian throne around 1000 AD. When his rivals began to increase in power, Lalibela sought the support of the powerful Ethiopian Orthodox Church by building the churches in this small town.

King Lalibela's project for gaining the church's favor had two unexpected results: (1) the creation of a holy place of unparalleled beauty and (2) the king's conversion to a religious life. After laboring for 20 years, he abdicated his throne to become a hermit, living in a cave and eating only roots and vegetables. To this day, Ethiopian Christians regard King Lalibela as one of their greatest saints.


The churches have been in continuous use since they were built in the 12th century. The first Europeans to see these extraordinary holy sites were Portuguese explorers in the 1520s, one of whom noted in his journal that the sights were so fantastic, he expected readers of his descriptions would accuse him of lying.
Medhame Alem (Ethiopian Christmas)
Altar at Holy Trinity Church
The churches of Lalibela were not constructed — they were excavated. Each church was created by first carving out a wide trench on all four sides of the rock, then painstakingly chiseling out the interior. The largest church is 40 feet high, and the labor required to complete such a task with only hammers and chisels is astounding.

Popular legend has it that angels came every night to pick up where the workmen had left off. One of the churches, Bete Maryam, contains a stone pillar on which King Lalibela wrote the secrets of the buildings' construction. It is covered with old cloths and only the priests may look on it.

The churches are connected by tunnels and walkways and stretch across sheer drops. The interior pillars of the churches have been worn smooth by the hands of supplicating worshippers.

Each church has its own resident monk who appears in the doorway in colorful brocade robes. Holding one of the church's elaborate processional crosses, usually made of silver, and sometimes a prayer staff.

Of Lalibela's 8-10,000 people, over 1,000 are priests. Religious ritual is central to the life of the town, with regular processions, extensive fasts, crowds of singing and dancing priests. This, combined with its extraordinary religious architecture and simplicity of life, gives the city of Lalibela a distinctively timeless, and biblical atmosphere.
There are 11 rock-cut churches at Lalibela, the most spectacular of which is Bete Giorgis (St. George's). Located on the western side of the cluster of churches, it is cut 40 feet down and its roof forms the shape of a cross.
It was built after King Lalibela's death (c.1220) by his widow as a memorial to the Saint-King. It is a magnificent culmination of Saint Lalibela's plans to build a New Jerusalem, with its perfect dimensions and geometrical precision.

In the "Northern Group" across the main road from
St. Georgis, the most notable church is Beta Medhane Alem, home to the Lalibela Cross and believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world.
Bete Medhane Alem is linked by walkways and tunnels to Beta Mariam (St. Mary's), possibly the oldest of the churches. In the east wall of the church is an array of geometric carved windows in a vertical line.

The windows illuminate the Holy of Holies in which the church's copy of the Ark is placed. Other decorations include a Star of David combined with a Maltese cross, a Sun with a smiling human face flanked by eight-spoked wheels, Mary on a donkey accompanied by Joseph, and an Annunciation.

Next to Beta Maryam is Beta Golgotha, known for its artwork which includes life-sized carvings of saints on the walls. It is also home to the tomb of King Lalibela, over which stands a gold-draped Ark. The Western group is completed by the Selassie Chapel and the Tomb of Adam
             LALIBELLA ROCK HEWN CHURCHES, Ethiopia
            DEBRE BIRHAN SELASSIE
  (Mountain Light of the Trinity) Church in Gondar
The outside of Debre Birhan Selassie is very humble, but its interior has one of Ethiopia's top attractions.
The walls depict biblical scenes and saints and the ceiling is covered with the faces of hundreds of angels. Icons of the Holy Trinity (three identical men with halos) and the Crucifixion have pride of place above the entrance to the Holy of Holies.
Debre Birhan Selassie Church in Gondar is famed for its beautiful examples of Ethiopian church art. Built by an emperor and preserved by an archangel, it is also among the most important churches of Ethiopia.
Abba Tesfa Mariam,  has the great honor to guard the Ark of the covenant, and the treasury.
Only the High Priest of Aksum is permitted to enter where the Ark is, not even Emperors is allowed inside. He will remain at the church until the end of his life.  He  can never leave the church yard and will name his successor on his death bed.
Please also see the "Church History" page on this site, for more churches.
Kidist Mariam Church
Debre Damo Monastery was founded in the fifth century by Abuna Aragawi.
He is one of the Nine Saints that furthered Christianity in Ethiopia (see also "church history page).

Tradition states that after spending twelve years at the court of king Ella Amida II of Axum, he set out with his companion the nun Edna to found Debre Damo.

God provided a large snake for him to aid him in climbing the amba, or steep-sided mountain, so he could build Debre Damo. When Abba Aragawi, came to the foot of the cliff a great serpent appeared. As St. Michael stood by to give directions, the serpent folded Abba Aragawi in his coils and drew him to the top of the mountain
Later in his life, king Kaleb sought his advice before going to south Arabia against the Jewish king Dhu Nuwas.

Monasteries in Ethiopia are usually located in the mountainous area
away from the cities.  The word Debre is a Geez word which means
mountain, so monasteries has the word Debre in the name; ie.,
Debre Damo, Debre Libanos, etc.
Churches are always named after a Saint, ie. Saint Mariam Church,
Saint Gabre, etc. One exception to this rule are churches named
after the Holy Trinity. 
This is one way to tell if a place is a church alone or a Monastic Church.  
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Mausoleum of Emperor Haile Selassie inside Holy Trinity Church, Addis Ababa.
         SAINT  TEKLYE HAIMANOT
Altar w/ stained class windows  inside Debre Libanos Monastery
Public bath house with Holy Water (Tsebel) from cave
  In the name of the Father, the Merciful name of the Son, and the Mystery of the Holy Spirit, One God. 















                               
"Ask and it will be given, Seek and he will find,  Knock and it will be opened. " (Matt. 7:7) ~ Prayer opens all doors.
                                                
                                        
                               
                                           Igzee'abiher misle kwulikimu (The Lord be with you all)



                  ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH MONASTERY  
      A Christian Monastic place of worship and living in the traditional ancient ways serving God
                        ~ ~ ~ A place to share knowledge of our Faith and Practice of Worship ~ ~ ~

There are numerous Ethiopian Monks who migrated from Ethiopia to the United States to head churches across America and to teach.  Many of these blessed monks live in small apartments in the city. 
Currently there is no Ethiopian Orthodox Monastery in the US where these monks can take a spiritual retreat and rest from the urban areas.

We, a few Orthodox members living in the Miami area, hope to establish a Orthodox Monastic Church and Monastery in the near future.
You may visit our sister site for more information
www.debreberhanselassiechurch.org
  Current chief abba, at Debre Libanos
                      - Nov. 2008
In the Orthodox Church, the process of becoming a monk or nun (female ascetics in the East are called monks Nun is a Western tradition) is intentionally slow, as the monastic vows taken are considered to entail a life-long commitment to God, and are not to be entered into lightly. After completing the novitiate, there are three degrees of or steps in conferring the monastic habit