August 31st 2020


Yemrehanna Kristo

Yemrehanna Kristo, 12 ͦ 8’26’’N 39 ͦ 4’19’’E. After journeying from Lalibela through the dramatic lush, almost never ending, landscape of the Ethiopian Highlands, during the rainy season, we climbed near to the top of a mountain, capped by ancient Juniper forest. In front of us was a wide deep cave formed out of angular black ballast rock, behind a partial curtain formed by a waterfall. Beyond in the cave is the wonderful Yehrehanna Kristos church, dating from the 11th century. It is built in the Axumite style from juniper; small granite stones, bedded on clay mortar and covered in projecting bands of gypsum.

The church, that was built by the emperor Yehrehanna Kristos, and its holy water was an important site of pilgrimage during the medieval period.

Inside it originally had three alters but now of course just one holy of holies, below one of the domes. It was a real privilege to see the fine historic paint work, the coffered ceiling representing the up turned ark of Noah and a manbara tabot, the ‘seat of the tabot’, upon which the holy Tabot, representing the ark of the covenant, rests during the services, wrapped up in a small cloth, and placed below a luxurious larger one.

August 31st 2020

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