The Fast of Nineveh (Jonah’s Fast)

February 19/ 20 16

The fast of Nineveh, the shortest canonical lent recognized by the Orthodox Church, is observed for three consecutive days, from Monday till Wednesday fifteen days prior to the Great Lent following the dietary rules of the Great Lent. As with all other fasts of the Holy church, the fast of Nineveh is observed by refraining from the intake of all dairy and meat products.

It is one of the movable fasts of the Ethiopian Church; the day on which the fast falls is determined through calculations based on the church’s calendar system.

Accordingly, in this year (2016), the fast of Nineveh begins on Monday, Yakutat 14/February 22 and lasts until February 16th/ February 26th. During this fast, we remember the three days Prophet Jonah spent in the belly of a large fish as penance for his disobedience to God and the atonement of the sinful city of Nineveh. During these three days, we should look at our lives and show remorse for our disobedient natures and follow in the footsteps of Prophet Jonah and the people of Nineveh.

May God Almighty be pleased in our fasting, prayer and lent!

Astereyo Mariam: the Festivity of the Death of St Mary

January 29, 2016

By Kassa Nigus  

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido church commemorates the death of St. Mary on Tir 21 (January 29). The day is known as Aster’eyo to mean appearance/Epiphany. It coincides with the season the church devoted to remember the different manifestations of Christ’s glory and Divinity, especially the Nativity, the Baptism as well as the miracle at Cana.

The term Aster’eyo is more popular in the commemoration of the death of St. Mary on the stated day in view of the fact that God came with thousands of His angles to comfort her, as is recorded in Synaxarium. The 21st day of each Ethiopian month is dedicated to commemorate Our Lady’s death and to venerate her.
According to the Synaxarium, the Holy Spirit informed Our Lady Virgin St. Mary at her usual praying site in the Holy Sepulchre that she was about to depart from this temporal world. When the time of her departure came, the virgins of the Mount of Olives came to her with the apostles, who were still alive, and surrounded her bed.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory, came to her with a host of thousands and thousands of angels and comforted her. He told her about the eternal joy that awaited her in heaven, and she rejoiced.Before she passed away, the apostles and the virgins asked her to bless them. She stretched her hand and blessed them all. She then gave up her pure spirit in the hands of her Son and God who took it to the heavenly mansions.

The apostles prepared her body in a fitting manner and carried it to Gethsemane. Some Jews who were unfriendly to the apostles blocked their way to prevent them from burying the body. One of the Jews seized the coffin with his hands which were cut off instantly from his body and remained attached to the coffin. He regretted his evil deed and wept bitterly. Through the supplications of the saintly apostles, his hands were reattached to his body miraculously, and he believed in the Lord Christ. After the apostles placed St. Mary’s body in the tomb, the Lord hid it from them.

St. Thomas, one of the Lord’s disciples, was not present at the time of St. Mary’s departure. He was heading to Jerusalem carried by a cloud. On his way, he saw the pure body of St. Mary carried by the angels and ascended to heaven with it. One of the angels told him, "Make haste and kiss the pure body of St. Mary," and he did.

When St. Thomas arrived where the disciples were, they told him about her departure and he said to them, "You know how I conducted myself at the resurrection of Our Lord. I will not believe unless I see her body." The apostles went with him to the tomb, and uncovered the place of the body only to find out that it was not there. Everyone was perplexed and surprised.

St. Thomas told them how he saw the holy body and the angels that were ascending with it. They heard the Holy Spirit saying to them, "The Lord did not will to leave her body on earth." The Lord had promised His pure apostles to let them see her in the flesh once again. They were waiting for this promise to be fulfilled, until the 16th day of the month of Nehasie/August, when the promise was fulfilled and they saw her.
The years of St. Mary’s life on earth were 64 years. She grew up in her parents’ house and lived 3 years and seven months there. She was 12 years old when she left the temple where she grew up. She spent 34 years and three months in Joseph’s house until the Ascension of the Lord and 14 years with St. John the Evangelist, according to what the Lord said when He was on the cross: "Behold, this is your son," and to St. John, "Behold, this is your mother."

  May Her intercession and blessings be with us. Amen.   

Source: Synaxarium – The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.


January 24, 2015
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church has been honoring both indigenous and foreign saints and martyrs dedicating a specific day to them throughout the year. Some of the saints were well known and celebrated in a very colorful feast, while  others remembered in a daily readings of their biography, struggle with the pagans for the sake of Christ  in order to  understand the sacrifices done by them and inspire faithful to lead a spiritual life.

On the 16th of every Ethiopian Month, the church dedicated the feast of Kidane Mihret (ኪዳነ ምሕረት), ‘covenant of mercy’ that refers to God’s promise to St. Mary.  every day of the year the church remembers at least one or two saints  on the date of his or her death, or birth. Among these one of the saints who remembered on this day (January 24) is recorded in the book of Synaxarium as follows:  

On this day Saint Philotheus, which name being interpreted is “lover of God,” became a martyr.  This saint was a man of Antioch, and his parents worshipped a bull which was called “Maraged.”  And they fed the bull on fine flour, which was boiled and mixed with fat, and seed-oil, and the honey of bees, and they anointed him with scented unguents thrice daily, and gave him wine and seed-oil to drink; and they built one house for him to live in during the winter and another for the summer.  And they placed a collar of gold round his neck, and rings of gold on his fore legs and hind legs. 

 Now this saint was of very goodly appearance.  And when he was ten years old his parents talked to him, and told him that he must worship the bull, but he would neither listen to their words nor do this thing, and because of their love for him, and because they did not wish to annoy him, they let him alone.  Now Saint Philotheus did not know Christ, and he thought that the sun was God.  And he stood up before the sun, saying, “I beseech thee, O sun, if thou art God, to tell me so”; and a voice came unto him from above, saying, “I am not God, but I am the servant and messenger of God Whom thou knowest, and thy blood shall be shed for the Name of God–Glory be to Him!”  

And when God saw the integrity of heart of the boy Philotheus, He sent His angel to him at that moment, and the angel informed him about the mystery of God, and opened his heart so that he might understand what he said unto him; and when he had told him everything, beginning with the creation of the world, and ending with the Incarnation of our Lord Christ, the heart of the boy rejoiced and his spirit was glad.  From that day he fasted, and prayed many prayers frequently, and he ate bread and salt only, and he gave alms to the poor and needy.  And when a year had passed his parents determined to give a feast to his friends and companions, and they required of their son to offer incense in honor of the bull, before they ate and drank.  
And the boy Philotheus stood up before the bull, and said unto him, “Is it true that thou art a god whom men worship?” And a voice came forth from the bull which said, “I am not a god, but Satan hath entered my heart and I have become a deceiver of men.”  Then the bull rose up and attacked the parents of the saint, and he gored them with his horns, and killed them.  And the saint commanded his slaves to kill the bull [and they did so], and they burnt him in the fire, and scattered [his ashes] to the winds.  And the parents of the saint were lying there dead, and God gave grace to Saint Philotheus, and he prayed over them, and their souls returned to them, and they rose up straightway and told him how they had seen the punishments which were [inflicted] in Sheol.  And after this Saint Philotheus and his parents were baptized with Christian baptism in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.  

And God gave him grace and power and he healed many sick folk by his prayer.  And the report of him reached Diocletian the emperor, who sent and had him brought to him.  And he said unto Saint Philotheus, “Cast incense to Apollo”; and he promised to give him many things if he would do so; and the saint rejected his promised things and his words.  And the emperor commanded the soldiers to punish him with every kind of torture, [and they did so].  

They first beat him with whips, and then they laid stones on his belly, and they did everything they could; but he was strong in the strength of God our Lord Jesus Christ. And he cursed the infidel emperor, and his unclean gods, until they smote him on the mouth, and cut out his tongue and broke his teeth; and when they had done all these things to him he would not hearken to the voice of the emperor.  Then the emperor began to persuade him, and to use words of blandishment and flattery to him, but Saint Philotheus laughed at him, and promised that he would worship that idol; and the emperor rejoiced at this and imagined that he would really do so.  

And he commanded his servants to bring Apollo, and the men and priests of the idols, and a herald went through the city who cried out, saying, “Come, O all ye people, so that ye may see Philotheus worshipping Apollo”: and all the people gathered together about the tribune.  And as they were bringing the idols along the road, Saint Philotheus asked our Lord Christ that the earth might open her mouth, and swallow up the idols and their priests.  And straightway the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the idols and their priests, and there was a great outcry round about; and when the people saw this, many of them believed on our Lord Christ. 

And the emperor was worth, and he commanded the soldiers to cut off the heads of them all with the sword, [and they did so,] and they received the crown of martyrdom in the kingdom of the heavens, and entered into life everlasting.  As for Saint Philotheus, when the emperor was tired of torturing him he commanded them to cut off his head with the sword, and he received the crown of martyrdom in the kingdom of the heavens.

Source: The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (Translation of Sir E. A. Wallis Budge). 


January 19, 2016
By Kassa Nigus 
 “Timket” is a Ge’ez word meaning “immersion in water” similar to the Baptism of Jesus Christ. The word also denotes epiphany which is driven from the Greek word epiphaneia meaning “appearance”. 

The annual Timket celebration is held across Ethiopia on Tir 11 E.C (January 19 G.C) with processions of priests carrying replicas of the Ark of Covenant, locally known as ‘Tabot’s, escorted by thousands of believers. The day is observed in commemoration of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River. Timket is not only one of the major feasts of the Ethiopian church but it is also a public holiday when offices and schools across the country are closed. 

Though Timket is celebrated on January 19, the season, according to the church’s tradition, covers the period from the eve of the festival to the start of the three-day fast observed in  commemoration of the fast the people of Nineveh observed to avert God’s wrath. During the Timket season, the church praises the Lord reciting chants and readings pertaining to the birth, circumcision, and baptism of Christ as well his miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. (Luke 2:21; John 2:1-11)

 Baptism of Jesus Christ by St. John 

 Christ’s baptism is recorded in the third chapter of the Gospel of Mathew as follows.  “‘I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.’ Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Mathew 3:11-17)  

The baptism of the Lord is also recorded in  Mark 1:9–11 and Luke 3:21–23. Those two evangelists recorded the voice that came from heaven as addressing Jesus by saying "You are beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased".

 The Mystery of Baptism 
 The things that happened after the baptism of Christ reveal important facts for us:    
  Revelation of Holy Trinity: after Christ was baptized, the three persons of Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) have been revealed distinctly. The voice of God the Father came from heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”. God the Son, incarnate in the human body, was baptized by St. John in Jordan River. And the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and perched on the Son. (Matt. 3:13-17)

The opening of heaven: right after Christ was baptized, the heavens were opened indicating that we have been redeemed from Adam’s sin that led to the closure of the heavens through believing in Jesus Christ and baptism. This reveals the spiritual value baptism has as an opener of the heavens. (Galatians 3:27). 

The Origin of Timket Festival in Ethiopia 

As land of God, Ethiopia has been following the teachings of the apostles and started celebrating epiphany at the national level in 530 AD during the reign of Emperor Gebre Meskel.  In 1140 AD, king and priest Lalibela made an amendment to the existing tradition of the Epiphany celebration by which he made a decree that urged all arks of covenant (Tabots) to be carried to a river or pool together to bless the waters. 
In 1426 AD, following a proposal from scholars, Emperor Zer’a Ya’ekob declared that the Tabots be taken to nearby pools on the eve (January 18) and stay the night there blessing the nation. In 1486 AD, Emperor Naod also made an order that the Tabots be escorted by the faithful in colorful processions. 
Following those traditions, the Tabots are taken to rivers and pools early afternoon on the eve of Timket, which is known as “ketera” meaning ‘making a reservoir for the celebration’. Each Tabot is carried overhead by a high priest to the nearby body of water accompanied by thousands of church members chanting hymns. 

The celebration is also augmented by spiritual dancing (known as shibsheba), drum beating, horn blowing, prayer stick waving and sistra rattling.  The Divine Liturgy is recited near the pools early in the morning. The water is then blessed and sprinkled towards the assembled congregation, some of whom immerse themselves in the water, symbolically renewing their baptismal vows. However, the festival does not end there; the crowd will escort the Tabots back to their churches at the end of the celebration on January 19. 

Though epiphany is a religious festival, many ethnic groups in Ethiopia celebrate it in line with their cultures. This adds to the appeal of the festival for foreign visitors and makes it one of the national celebrations which attract many tourists to Ethiopia. This unique festival qualifies as a tourism asset worthy of being recorded in UNESCO’s intangible world heritage list next to Meskel (True Cross) celebrations. 

Given the spiritual and cultural values of the festival, it is the responsibility of every Ethiopian to preserve this longstanding tradition and hand it over to the coming generation as it is.  

•  The Holy Bible: The King James Version (1769)
• Megabe Mstir Welde Rufael Fetahi and Kesis Samuel Eshetu (translated by Dr. Merkeb Mekuria), 2014. Betimketu Dagmenga weleden, pp.132 (Special publication by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, Addis Ababa: Tinsae Zegubae

The Birth of Jesus Christ (Christmas)

January 15, 2016
By Kassa Ngus
The Feast of the Birth of Jesus Christ is one of the most joyful days of the Ethiopian Orthodox  Tewahodo Church that has been celebrated  on Tahisas 29 E.C  in the three evangelical year (Matthew, Mark  and Luke) (January 7) and on Tahisas 28 (January 6) in a fourth year cycle (in the year of John). 

The Feast of the Birth of Jesus which is parallel to “Lidet” in the Ethiopian Church is also known as the "Incarnation of Christ." This means that Jesus became a man and came into the world to save us. We also refer to this joyous feast as Christmas. The story of the Birth of Christ is superbly told in the Holy Scriptures. The story is mainly found in (Matthew 1:18-25 and in Luke 2:1-20).

The reason why Jesus was born
God created Adam and Eve and placed them in a beautiful environment that supplied their every need. In the Garden of Eden our original human parents found food plentiful, animals tame and a loving teacher—God Himself—accompanying them and teaching them everything they needed to know.

If Adam and Eve had obeyed God, they could have bridged the gap between mortality and immortality; they had access to the tree of life. They had every advantage, so what went wrong? Adam and Eve did what every other human being has done: They sinned. They disobeyed God.

God gave our original human parents the gift of free choice. He gave them the ability to decide whether they would obey Him, and they missed the mark. Satan, in the form of a serpent, attempted to subvert God’s will for mankind (Genesis: 3:1-4). The devil appealed to Eve’s vanity, convincing her she could be as God Himself, "knowing good and evil" (Genesis: 3: 5).

Satan, in a blatant lie, told Eve she didn’t have to depend on God for anything. Satan posed as the liberator, offering Eve instant gratification. Eve was willingly deceived by this appeal to her vanity, so she ate the forbidden fruit and presented the same fruit to her husband. Adam then also ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis: 3: 6). Though Adam was created in the likeness of his Lord, man transgressed; hence demons ruled over him instead of the gracious will of the Lord.

The power of the demon over man made his body to decay in the grave and his soul to languish in hell. Therefore, man was living in Condemnation due to the Sin man committed which threw him into hell where he lived in utter disgrace for five and half millennia. Jesus had to be born because God wanted to remove the sins of humankind through a perfect sacrifice by revealing His own character to humanity.
He has given us in His birth the life we have lost for ages. Man and angels have together borne witness of this restoration of heavenly peace in their welcoming song. He himself has also later in His Ministry had said that His peace is not like the one the world might offer. His peace is eternal while that of the world is only ephemeral. (Jn.14:2)

By and large this Birth has completely changed man’s history. Man is indeed transformed to his original grace due to this Divine Birth; and eternal salvation is delivered.

Human being and Angles sung together

Angles chased man out of Garden of Eden when he sinned and they also guarded it with swords of flame. Hence, Adam never returned to Eden. When Christ was born, the two reconciled and sung together. They together praised the incarnate God. This demonstrated the true reconciliation between heaven and earth. (Luke 2:8-20)

The church teaches actively for the last 2006 years about the grand nature of this Holy day. How about us? How we celebrate the day? Are we to sing with angles or spend the night in Night clubs? When the shepherds were told in the night about the news of His birth, what they said was, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." (Luke 2:15)  There, they went and found Christ in a manger with His mother. We have to always find ourselves at Bethlehem, the Church, if we want to find the Holy Savior with His mother.
The Holy Bible: The King James Version (1769).

Saint Takla Himanot the Ethiopian

Updated January 1, 2016
By Kassa Nigus 
The Family of the Saint
In the 13th century, a Christian family lived in Ethiopia; the husband who was a priest and loved Jesus very much was called "Tsega Ze’ab" (= the gift of father), and the wife who was very rich and loved the poor was called “Egzi’e Hareya " (= the chosen of Lord). Their patron saint was the Archangel "Michael", and they used to make a feast for him on the 12th of every Ethiopian month by having a mass and after that a banquet for the poor.

In every 12th of the Ethiopian month which is named by the Arch Angel Michael, they prepared a feast and fed the poor. However they were both sadden and unhappy with the fact that they could not have a child. “Egzi’e Hareya "  used to go to church and prayed beneath the icon of our mother Virgin Mary to God to give her a child that would love and serve Him, live in righteousness other wise to never let give her and keep her sterile.

One day, Tsega Ze’ab and “Egzi’e Hareya” discussed who inherit their wealth since they didn’t have a child. They decided to give their money and all wealth to the poor and liberating their slaves who happily served them.They told their servants they no longer have to live serving them and are free to go to but the slaves loved them so much that they said let us ask for forgiveness if we have disappointed you but please do not let us leave you, let us rather stay with you.

The capture of Egzi’e Hareya

After many years of peace, a pagan called "Motolomy" ruled the land of "Damoot" and "Shawa". He closed many churches and tried to revive the worship of idols.

One day "Tsilalsh" (the place where "Tsega ze’ab" and " Egzi’e Hareya " lived) was attacked by Motolomy. When the soldiers entered the country, " Egzi’e Hareya " "  was caught and taken to Damot by the soldiers who wanted to give her as a gift to their king "Motolomy".

 "Tsega ze’ab" took a route to hide and was followed by a soldier who wanted to kill him, until they reached a nearby lake, so "Tsega ze’ab" threw himself in the lake to hide from the soldier asking the Archangel Michael to help him through this. At once he felt the water over him as if it’s a tent sheltering him, and the Archangel appeared to strengthen him.

  The Archangel told "Tsega ze’ab" that the soldier went away and hence he got out of the lake. At that time the Archangel Michael told "Tsega ze’ab" that he was saved because of his child to be. He told him of great secrets about the child and carried him back to the town.

Then, when Egzi’e Hareya was caught and taken to Damot by the soldiers, she was presented to the king "Motolomy".

When the king saw the face of the saint "Egzi’e hareya", he ordered for the richest clothes and precious jewels for her, and to be kept in the city of gods until their wedding.But when all the soldiers went to sleep, she used to pray in the night to God for His great work in her life. King Motolomy gather his royals, pagan priests and brought Tsega ze’ab forward, she was told to bow down to the idol for worship but refused saying I will not bow for this made idol with human hands and when they came forward to punish her but her beloved St. Michael took her away back to her place Tslalsh.

"Tsega ze’ab" was in great misery and sadness for what happened to his wife whom he loved very much, and was afraid of the evil king, but he went to the house of God at once. He went into the church and kneeled before the Holy Alter and cried and sobbed a lot while he prayed to God to save his wife.

"Egzi’e Hareya" and the angel

One day while he was in the church he saw a woman in expensive precious clothes praying and awe to God. When he finished he went to talk and asked her where she was from saying, “you seem to be from a royal family what have brought you here?”, she told him that she had heard of a man called "Tsega ze’ab"  whose wife was taken and kidnapped and hence she came to be his wife! Then the priest crossed and told her that priests do not remarry, and that God would protect his wife and would return her safely to him.

 "Egzi’e Hareya" smiled happily for her husband’s faith and told him she was his wife and took off the veil that covered his face. Her husband was surprised and asked her how she had come. She told him that the Angel had saved her and got her to the church. The two kneeled before God in the church and thanked Him for his protection. In the evening all the congregation came when they heard of the return of "Egzi’e Hareya" and they all prayed glorifying God for his great love.

Then, she told him that she prayed for her safety, and Michael, the Archangel came to her to tell her that she would return for the sake of her son. When the wedding ceremony started and finished, and the people congratulated the king, there was lightning and thunder. The king got mad and the angel saved her and got her to the church.At night "Tsega ze’ab" had a dream where he saw the sun and a lot of stars in their bedroom and the next day the Archangel told them of the coming of their son.

The Birth of the Saint

At the night Tsega Zeab saw a dream as did Egzi’e Hareya and St. Michael was revealed and told them they will bear a blessed child chosen by God and who will be the light of the world.

Then our beloved father was born on 24th December in 1215 and called him "The happiness of “Tseyon", or “The happiness of the churches". There were many miracles done by him; like when he talked when he was only 3 days old. He was baptized on his 40th day.

  During his childhood, there was a terrible famine that his parents could not make the feast of St. Michaeal the Archangle. Then, St. Tekle Haymanot indicated his mother to the basket with his hand where there was a little pan and oil in a pot. He put his hand on the basket that it poured too much that his mother gathered every container she had in the house.

St. Abune Tekle Haymanot begun to preach the Gospel over the whole of Ethiopia he traveled to and abandoned the pagan and idol worship. People became very faithfully to God, strong in their religion after he baptized them.He established churches; assigned priests and deacons that would serve the people with the Holy Communion. Throughout his life, St.Tekle Haymanot increased his fasting and prayer for the change he was going to face a head.

Eventually he exerted plenty effort in praying and fasting before God for the forgiveness of all the world and its sin in the monastery of Debere Libanos which was established by him, there he live every day remembering the torture and pain Jesus received from his own peoples in order to save the world.

He was chosen not to live in comfort where there were too much worldly pleasures and he even prayed standing on one foot until his leg fell off. He remained in his cave until his death. Many people from all over Ethiopia come to the monastery of Dabere Libanos in search of his blessing, many cured of illnesses, and to hear the word and the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    May the Grace and blessing of our Father be up on us Amen!

Source: Gadle Tekle Haymanot,1989.

The Feast of St. Gabriel

December 29, 2015
According to his homily, St Gabriel is one of the archangels who strongly contended for the honor and wisdom of God when the fraud angle wished to be the highest in heaven, even above God. During that time of mystification, St. Gabriel heartened his fellow angles saying, "we shall persist till we realize our Creator”.
All heaven fell in commotion as Satan attempted to conquer the Son of God and those who were submissive to his will. But the good angels prevailed, and Satan, with his followers, was driven from heaven. (Isaiah 14:12-20; Ezekiel 28:1-19; Revelation 12:7-9)

St Gabriel is also the angel who announced to Zacharias the priest that his sterile wife will give birth to a son who will be called John (Luke 1:13). He mentioned some prophecies about that son, which shows that angels are capable of knowing what will happen in the future as revealed to them by God. Gabriel is also the one who was sent to the Holy Virgin and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).

Gabriel also clarifies visions when ordered by God. This appears in the vision of the prophet Daniel. When Daniel was perplexed with the vision, the Lord sent Gabriel to clarify the meaning of the vision to Daniel. (Dan. 8:16) In the subsequent chapter, the angel said, “O Daniel, I now come forth to give you skill and understanding.” (Dan.9: 22)

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates colorfully the Feast of St. Gabriel on 19th day of each month of which two are  great annual  feasts – on Tahisas 19 (December 28) and Hamle 19 (July 26). Tahisas 19, in the Church, is dedicated to commemorate the deliverance of the three youths (Sidraq, Misaq and Abdenago) from the burning fire of Nebuchadnezzar through the help of St Gabriel (Daniel 3).

Berhan (Light)

December 28, 2015
Berhan (Light): it covers the period between December 14 and 20. The prophets throughout the Old Testament have foretold the incarnation of God who is symbolized by light. The week named Berhan shows our God as the Sun of Justice redeeming His people with His Divine Light.  The readings and hymns for the period are taken from Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, John 8:12, Rom13:11-14, 1Jn1:1-10, Ac 26:12-18-18, Ps 43(42):3 etc. 

Beata: The Entrance of Saint Mary into the Temple

December 12, 2015
By Kassa Nigus

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates the Entrance of Saint Mary into the Temple at Jerusalem on Tahisas 3 (December 12) as one of the thirty three feasts of St. Mary in the year. The Feast recognized in the Ethiopian Church as “Be’ata” in Ge’ez language to mean “her entry” to the Temple.

The entrance of our holy Lady the Virgin, Saint Mary into the Temple took place when she was three years old, for she was dedicated to God. Her mother, Hannah, was childless. The women who were in the Temple kept themselves away from her, and she was exceedingly sorry about this and Joachim her husband was an old man.   

 Hannah prayed to God fervently and with a repentant heart saying, "If You give me a fruit, I will devote the child to Your Holy Temple." God answered her prayers and she brought forth this pure saint and called her Mary. She reared her for three years, after which she took her in to the Temple and given to the chief priest of the time, Zacharias to live with the virgins in the Temple. 

At this time, the chief priest Zacharias received her and thought critically what to do in respect of her sustenance so that he gathered the priests to talk about her sustenance.   At a moment the archangel Phanuel appeared to them descending on the space holding of heavenly foods. Then, Zacharias and other priests being prepared one after another to partake the food from the angle supposed as it was to them but the angle ascended back and has not approached to one of them. Later on, when the Child had left alone, the angle descended and fed her covering of his wings.  

Then, she received her sustenance from the hands of the angels, until the time when our Lord Christ came into the world, and was incarnated through her, the elect of all women. Saint Mary dwelt in the sanctuary for 12 years learning the doctrines, commandments and sacred rites.When she had completed 12 years in the sanctuary, the priests took counsel together concerning her, because at this age, they believed that she reached puberty, so that she had to depart from the temple. So that they might entrust her to someone who would protect her, for she was consecrated to God and they were not allowed to keep her in the temple after this age.

Then, Zachariah prayed to God concerning Mary. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him and said, “Zachariah, go forth and gather together all the men and old men, and take their staffs, and write the name of each man upon his staff. Then gather together all the staffs into the Sanctuary, and pray to God; and after this go forth and give unto each man his staff. And the man on whose staff the Lord God shall make a sign to appear is he who is worthy that Mary shall be given unto him to protect.”


In view of that, he gathered 12 righteous men from the house of David of the Tribe of Juda so he might place her with one of them. He took their staffs inside the Sanctuary, and a dove flew up and stood on the staff belonging to Joseph the carpenter who was a righteous man. They knew that this was God’s will.

Accordingly, the priests decided that she was assigned to Joseph as guardian and could take care of her and who would look after her. Joseph took the holy Virgin St. Mary, and she dwelt with him until Gabriel, the Angel of the Lord, came to her and announced to her that the Son of God was to be incarnated from her, for the salvation of Adam and his posterity.

                         May Her intercession be with us!


• The Ethiopic Synaxarium (Translation of Sir E. A. Wallis Budge) pp.181-2.

• Hiruy Ermiyas 2006 E.C. Mezgebe Tarik part 1.pp.85-86.

The Feast of the Ark of the Covenant

December 1, 2015 
By staff members
This is a feast colorfully celebrated every year on Hidar 21 (November 30) at every church dedicated to St. Mary. The day is observed with special fervor particularly in Axum where the Arc of the Covenant is housed safely in a chapel.  The occasion is attended by tens of thousands of people from all over Ethiopia and also foreign visitors making it one of the most joyous annual pilgrimages in Axum, the sacred city of Ethiopians.

The Feast of Tabote Tsion is held in commemoration of different historical events including the coming of the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia and the construction in Axum of the first church dedicated to St. Mary. The day also marks the destruction of Dagon by the power of the ark of God, as recorded in the Bible, and the return of the arc to Israel after seven months of exile at the Dagon`s house in Philistine. (1 Samuel 4; 6)

In those days, Israelites were rendered slaves to Egyptian pharaohs who abused and tortured them cruelly. The plight of the Israelites continued until the great prophet Moses was sent by God to liberate them from the brutal suppression.

Moses`s mother brought up her son in the palace of the Pharaoh teaching him secretly about the identity and tradition of her forefathers. After Moses was old enough to be a ruler in the house of the pharaoh, he abandoned the comfort of the palace to partake in the suffering of his people as he led them to freedom in line with God`s plan.

After the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, God gave them the tablet of the Ten Commandments (Tabote Tsion) through Mosses in the mount of Sanai so they use it as a sacred instrument to worship God. The Ark was carried by the Israelites during their 40 years of journey to the land of hope. Whenever they camped, the Ark was placed in a special and sacred tent called the Tabernacle.

  The Captivity of the Ark of God and the Death of Eli  

In the course of time, during the reign of Elli, unusual events took place among Palestinians and Israelites. The story recounted in the 1st Book of Samuel goes as follows. The old priest Eli had two children (Hophni and Phinehas) who were behaving wickedly, taking for themselves all the prime cuts of meat from sacrifices and committing adultery with women who served at the sanctuary`s entrance.

Eli was aware of their behavior but he rebuked them too lightly and was unable to make them give up their bad deeds. He used to tell them, “my children what I heard of you is wrong; if a man does wrong to a man to God is prayed for, but how could you do wrong to God?“ but he refrained from punishing them because they were his sons.  

 Eli`s sons kept on doing sinful acts, and so, Samuel the Prophets was sent to Eli to tell him that he and his family will be punished for their wrongdoing:  “God has sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever …In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house. When I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” (1 Samuel 3:12-14)

As a result, the Philistines attacked Israel.  “And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israelites; and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines, and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men eventually capturing the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelites and killing Eli’s sons, who accompanied the Ark to the battle as priests. (1 Samuel 4:2)

Israelites were always victorious in their battles whenever they had Tabote Tsion amidst them. But because God`s wrath was on them due to the sins of Eli`s sons, they lost the battle and many thousands died in the war filled. Tabote Tsion was captured in the battle and both of Eli`s sons were killed.  

Eli, who was nearly blind, was unaware of the event until he asked about all the commotion. Sitting in a chair, he was told what had happened by a soldier who had fled the battle.  The soldier said to Eli "I am one who has barely escaped from the war to tell you that the ark has been captured by our enemies and both of your sons died on the war" 

Upon hearing the shocking news, Eli fell backwards out of his chair and died from a broken neck. He was a Judge of Israel for a total of 40 years, and died at the age of 98. His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the Ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and husband were dead. She went into labour and gave birth, but was overcome by labour pains. As she was dying, the women attending to her said "Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son."  But she did not respond or pay any attention. She named the boy Ichabod, to mean The Glory has departed from Israel – because of the capture of the Ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband.

After their victory at Ebenezer, the Philistines took Tabote Tsion to their country but misfortune fell on them. When in Ashdom, it was placed in the temple of Dagon under the idol. The next morning Dagon was found prostrate, bowing down before Tabote Tsion. They again restored the idol to its original place but yet again on the following morning Dagon was found broken into pieces.

The Philistines were also plagued by diseases and an outbreak of mice. They then sent Tabote Tsion to the land of Ashdon. But the same tragedy occurred among the people of Gath and Ekron to whom Tabote Tsion was moved. After the Ark had been among them for seven months, the Philistines, on the advice of their diviners, returned it to the Israelites, accompanying its return with an offering consisting of golden images of the tumors and mice with which they had been afflicted. The Ark was then set in the field of Joshua (1 Sam. 6:1-15).

Based on these miraculous events, the Ethiopian Church celebrates the feast of the Ark of the Covenant locally known as Tabote Tsion.