Friday, February 05, 2016

The Rock Church of Adadi Mariam

Ethiopia has a distinctive culture and religious tradition. Legend has it that the child of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba came to settle in Ethiopia.  Historically, it was one of the earliest countries to adopt Christianity as a state religion.  Today a majority of the population belong to the Oriental Orthodox Church. One of its most visible symbols are the rock hewn churches, the most famous of which are the ones at Lalibela.  Lalibela is too far from Addis Ababa (9 hours by car).  So we settled on visiting the Adadi Mariam, about an hour outside Addis. 

Below the big tree, in the distance two crosses mark the top of the rock church.  The whole church is below ground level, carved from the solid rock.  

Around the church are houses for the monks who come to meditate. 

To get to the church, one has to do down the steps, roughly 20 of them.  There was a woman kneeling and praying at one of the doors.  This is a practice that I have not seen very often at other countries - kneeling and praying outside the church rather than inside.  But it seems to be common in Ethiopia.  

There are corridors, again carved from the rock, on both sides of the sanctuary.  The left for the men, and the right for the women.  

There is, naturally, an icon of Mary and Jesus.  

Above the door to the sanctuary, there is an icon of the Trinity.  At the 4 corners are the 4 animals representing the 4 Evangelists: human (Matthew), lion (Mark), ox (Luke), and eagle (John).  This is, again, common in Ethiopian churches.

The Adadi Mariam was quiet and peaceful, modest and unpretentious.  There were few tourists.  People can come, and they do come, to pray and worship.  It is obvious they are very serious about their faith, which is very much alive.  I like this place.   



YTSL said...

Thanks for bringing my attention to the rock church of Adadi Mariam. Had previously only known about the ones at Lalibela, which I'd love to visit some day.

StephenC said...

You are much welcome. I would love to visit Lalibela as well.