Wednesday, May 21, 7321

Orthodox Christianity in Ethiopia (c. AD 321)

Orthodox Christianity became the established church of the Ethiopian Axumite Kingdom under king Ezana in the 4th century through the efforts of a Syrian Greek named Frumentius, known in Ethiopia as Abba Selama, Kesaté Birhan ("Father of Peace, Revealer of Light").

Ezana of Axum ( Aezana or Aizan), was ruler of the Axumite Kingdom (c. 321 – c. 360) located in present-day in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, southern Saudi Arabia, northern Somalia, Djibouti, northern Sudan, and southern Egypt; he himself employed the style "king of Saba and Salhen, Himyar and Dhu-Raydan." Tradition states that Ezana succeeded his father Ella Amida (Ousanas) while still a child and his mother, Sofya served as regent.

Frumentius (c. 306-383) was the first bishop of Axum, and is credited with bringing Christianity to Ethiopia. He was a Syro-Phoenician Greek born in Tyre.

According to the 4th century historian Rufinus, who cites Frumentius' brother Edesius as his authority, as children (ca. 316) Frumentius and Edesius accompanied their uncle Metropius on a voyage to Ethiopia. When their ship stopped at one of the harbors of the Red Sea, people of the neighborhood massacred the whole crew, with the exception of the two boys, who were taken as slaves to the King of Axum. The two boys soon gained the favour of the king, who raised them to positions of trust, and shortly before his death, gave them their liberty. The widowed queen, however, prevailed upon them to remain at the court and assist her in the education of the young heir, Ezana, and in the administration of the kingdom during the prince's minority. They remained and (especially Frumentius) used their influence to spread Christianity. First they encouraged the Christian merchants present in the country to practise their faith openly; later they also converted some of the natives.

Ezana sent Frumentius to Alexandria to ask the Patriarch, St. Athanasius, to appoint a bishop for Ethiopia. Athanasius appointed Frumentius himself, who returned to Ethiopia as Bishop with the name of Abune Selama.

[Ethiopian Orthodox Wedding]

Ethiopia - Orthodox Service

The Church of St. George (Amharic: Bete Giyorgis) is a monolithic church in Lalibela, Amhara Region, Ethiopia. It is the most well known and last built (early 1200's) of the 13 churches in the Lalibela area, and has been referred to as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The dimensions of the complex are 25 meters by 25 meters by 30 meters,[2] and there is a small baptismal pool outside the church, which stands in an artificial trench.

According to Ethiopian cultural history, Bete Giyorgis was built after King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty had a vision in which he was instructed to construct the church; Saint George and God have both been referred to as the one who gave him the instructions.

[7340 Ambrose / 7321 Ethiopia / 7300 Zimbabwe]