After lunch it was a visit to the Holy Trinity Cathedral built 1931 – 1944, a representative Coptic Orthodox Church.
We were greeted by the local priest Father Pauli, Aba Paulos. As Nic said in his Facebook Onebigclan page …
"I am the man in charge of the Holy Trinity Church of Addis Ababa. I have been in charge for more than 20 years. If you have any question, do not hesitate and ask. You are my guests and it is a pleasure for me to welcome you here".
Well, what an immediate impression I had of this really gentle wise tall person. Later we took a few photos with him but my lasting impression would be the first encounter especially with the beautiful afternoon light shining on his face and white beard. My photos don't exactly capture that look.
Thanks Genet for explaining some of the history and symbolism inherent in the Ethiopian Orthodox churches. Like women having their own entrance and sitting on the right, men sitting on the left plus how the altar area is divided into three sections with a copy of the "ark of the covenant" held in the third chamber and this area is restricted to just the priests. This would be repeated time and time again on my northern tour.
I really loved the stained glass windows where one can read the story of the Bible from these pictures: left hand side show scenes from the Old Testament such as Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses with the 10 Commandments, and on the right hand side the most important scenes of the New Testament.
With overhead the elaborate chandeliers accompanying the stained glass windows were the large murals relating to nationally significant events (independence, etc.) all over the church especially the grand mural above the altar. It is the only church that displays non-Christian portrays such as Judaism icons, different regime emblems and marine flags.
The church is also the final resting place for Emperor Haile Selassie and his consort Empress Menen, both interred in matching huge granite tombs and reburied here 25 years after his death in 2000.
At the rear is also a small Menelik museum adjacent to the church housing artefacts of the past Ethiopian ruling class with an array of crosses, chalices, crowns and a throne or two. Again no cameras.
Within the church compound is a graveyard for soldiers who fought the Italian occupation, those who accompanied Haile Selassie into exile, as well as other famous people (politicians, musicians etc) and most recently Meles Zenawi. The jacaranda tree was in full bloom with its beautiful fragrant, purple, trumpet-shaped blooms also providing much needed shade.
Note however being non-Ethiopians are charged an entrance fee of 100 Birr / NZ$6.70 / US$4.90 and this was the first of many "Shoes Off" before stepping into the church. Glad that I had my Boston Birkenstocks for this trip!
Holy Trinity Cathedral
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Addis Ababa, Ādīs Ābeba, Ethiopia