Unexpected prank on Tigest Girma

The Amhara and Tigray communities of Ethiopia’s northern and central highlands have traditionally been the church’s most devoted followers, and the church’s religious forms and values have dominated Amhara society. The Ethiopian Orthodox church was proclaimed the country’s state church under the Amhara-dominated Ethiopian monarchy, and it was a bulwark of Emperor Haile Selassie I’s regime.

The conquests of the Muslim Arabs in the 7th century cut off the Ethiopian church from much of its Christian neighbors. In the decades that followed, the church absorbed different syncretic doctrines, but communication with the outside Christian world was preserved via the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem.

The patriarch of Alexandria appointed the Ethiopian archbishop, known as the abuna (Arabic: “our father”), who was always an Egyptian Coptic monk, beginning in the 12th century; this created a rivalry with the powerful Ethiopian monastic community’s native itshage (abbot general).

Attempts to abolish Egyptian Coptic rule were made from time to time, but it wasn’t until 1929 that an agreement was reached: an Egyptian monk was re-appointed abuna, but four Ethiopian bishops were consecrated as his auxiliaries.

In 1950, a native Ethiopian abuna, Basil, was appointed, and in 1959, an autonomous Ethiopian patriarchate was created, despite the church’s continued recognition of the Coptic patriarch’s honorary primacy. When Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1993, it petitioned Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic church’s patriarch, for autocephaly. This was granted in 1994, and the Ethiopian church agreed to the new Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church’s independence in 1998.

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