The Ge’ez language is used to commemorate the Ethiopian Church’s divine services. Since the advent of the Nine Saints (Pantelewon, Gerima (Isaac, or Yeshaq), Aftse, Guba, Alef, Yem’ata, Liqanos, and Sehma), who escaped persecution by the Byzantine Emperor after the Council of Chalcedon, it has been the liturgical language of the church.
The Greek Septuagint was the Old Testament edition that was originally translated into Ge’ez, but later revisions indicate that Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic sources were used. In the nineteenth century, a man known as Abu Rumi was the first to translate it into modern vernacular. During his reign, Haile Selassie funded two Amharic translations of the Ge’ez Scriptures, one before World War II and the other after. Today, most sermons are delivered in the local language.
Ethiopia has many monolithic (rock-hewn) churches, the most prominent of which are the eleven churches at Lalibela. Aside from these, there are two major styles of architecture: basilican and local. Though the early basilicas are nearly all in ruins, the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum is an example of the basilican style.
These examples reflect the influence of the architects who designed the basilicas in San and elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula in the 6th century. Native churches are divided into two types: oblong churches, which are historically found in Tigray, and circular churches, which are traditionally found in Amhara and Shewa (though either style may be found elsewhere).
The sanctuary is square and clear in the middle in both ways, and the arrangements are based on Jewish custom. Frescoes can be seen on the walls and ceilings. The body of the church is surrounded by a circular or rectangular courtyard.
Modern Ethiopian churches may use basilican or native architectural styles, as well as modern construction techniques and materials. The church and outer court in rural areas are often thatched, with mud-built walls. The church buildings are normally surrounded by a forested area, which acts as a biodiversity reservoir in areas of the world that are otherwise deforested.