Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inside the Ethiopian Church

In the previous post we saw the exterior of the Ethiopian Church in central Jerusalem.
Let's take off our shoes and go inside.

It is rare in Jerusalem for a church and its sanctuary to be round, but this circular pattern is used in most of the principal churches in Ethiopia.

The high dome is a starry sky filled with angels.
(You can enlarge the photos.)

Here is a seraph!
The 6-winged seraphim are described in the Prophet Isaiah's marvelous vision

At the center, behind a circular partition, stands the inner sanctuary.

The priest puts on his vestments

and can then enter the chamber, called the Holy of Holies.

The outer wall has a few benches, like this on which the monk is sitting and reading (probably the Book of Psalms).

 But like most Eastern Orthodox churches, the Ethiopian Church is devoid of any permanent seats.
Worship is done while standing, or maybe a little sitting on the floor too.
The prayer can go on for hours so many regulars  use these long staffs with carved chin rests for support.
Shepherds in Ethiopia use similar sticks while watching their flock.

This particular folding chair also had warm house slippers under it.

On my first visit to this church years ago, it just happened to be prayer time.
With a handful of Ethiopian women, I stood and listened to the priest chanting from inside the Holy of Holies.
But I have read that music--singing, and even dancing--in an integral part of their worship.

Maybe tomorrow we can look at some of the paintings and  people in the church.

See more posts about this church here.
(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday.)


VP said...

Even at first sight the colors are so different and exotic. Thanks for this visit, I will be happy to see more.

magiceye said...

beautiful captures!!

Leif Hagen said...

Thanks for the fascinating tour inside that church! Great photos and descriptions, tour guide extraordinaire!

Sarah said...

Hi dear Dina
I'm visiting your blog after a long time. I was too busy with preapring for MA entrance exam that I have tomorrow and friday morning...It's a hard challenge, pray for me my friend.
Just come to say Hello :)

Arti said...

Very beautiful... Loved the pink colors and the amazing architecture...
Have a wonderful week:-)

Dina said...

Sarah!! I'm so happy to see your smiling profile face again!
Wow, you are going for a Master's? I hope and pray and KNOW that you will do very well in your exam and studies.
It seems that every time you have to study quietly and prepare for big exams, the streets are filled with demonstrations.

Dina said...

Shalom VP, Magiceye, and Leif--so glad you appreciate this church.

Arti, shalom and welcome. I went now to visit your blog. Your in-depth description of your pilgrimage to the Magh Mela was very moving. I learned so much. Thank you for sharing such photos and feelings.

Francisca said...

I took my shoes off and stepped in with you. How glad I am I did... what a unique interior, this round Ethiopian Church. Will be back for more tomorrow.

Pietro said...

Precious, really beautiful. Great architecture and colors.
Have a pleasant day, Dina

Anonymous said...

Extremely elaborate. Does it welcome all kinds including the very poor? Some churches, this fancy, in cities in America would turn a poor person away at the door.

Petrea said...

It's a beautiful and unusual church. Architecture for worship is often some of the loveliest.

Sarah, good luck!

Dina said...

Abe, from your question I realize the big difference between America and Jerusalem.
Actually, compared to other Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches in the city, this one is rather modest and simple. The Ethiopian monks who live in this church compound and those who live in tiny cells on the roof of the Holy Sepulchre are themselves very poor.

Robin said...

Fuzzy slippers and a chin rest? I like the way they think!

My photography is available for purchase - visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

JM said...

I have never been inside an Ethiopian church (would love to visit the amazing Lalibela St. George Church!). Thanks for the lovely tour, Dina.

Kay said...

This beautiful place has a bit of a mosque shape, don't you think? I love the color of the walls. Very interesting.

Rayna Eliana said...

What gorgeous captures. I love the colors and contrasts, the wonderful tour you have given us.


Sarah said...

Thank you so much. You are always in my mind.
I hope to get chance and start bloging again after entering Master's level...
Demonstration was not succesful this time, so sorry about what's going on here and we can not do anything for it :(
They just attack and kill...

Winchester Daily Photos said...

Such a colourful church inside, the pinks are great

Rob and Mandy said...

This is such a wonderful and deep place!

Spiderdama said...

I think this church looks wonderful outside and inside. Like the color of pink:-)

Levi has operated for squinting eye (do not know if squinting it's the right word in English..) It is a little painful, but it goes well with him.

I will of course love to meet you when I`m comming to Jerusalem! We will stay there from 20 - 24 April.

Wish you a happy evening!

Dina said...

Hi friends, thanks for joining me in the church visit.

Robin, me too!

JM, I googled your church in Ethiopia. Wow! A 30 meter high church in the form of a cross; carved out of solid rock in the 13th century! Now I understand why you want to see it.

Kay, the shape of a mosque? Umm, I guess so, but a lot different.

Sarah, there are so many unexpected things happening these days. You never know . . .
We all hope you can find time to blog, just a little even.

Spiderdama, tov, yalla!

Cloudia said...

our cousins!

What amazing colour inside...

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral


Tina Liel said...

Boker tov Dina! Thanks for the pictures. I remember visiting an Ethiopian church "on top" of the Holy Sepulchre (or maybe I thought it was). Need to check on this one. Have a great day Dina♥

Siddhartha Joshi said...

This is such a lovely collection of pictures...I am so intrigued with Jerusalem and your blog has so much information :)

Would surely visit regularly!

Dina said...

Cloudia, are you sure you're not thinking instead of our Ethiopian Jewish "cousins"?

Tina Liel, yes you are right. Ethiopian monks live in tiny cells on the roof of the Holy Sepulchre, see one here:

and they have a chapel inside too: see

Siddhartha Joshi, shalom and welcome! So true, Jerusalem is simply intriguing.

spacedlaw said...

Lovely building! There are still a few round churches in Rome (some of the oldest ones).

Gunn said...

So many beautiful details! You have composed and got interesting light in all of your images.

Bill Nicholls said...

That is a very butiful church to see inside

Tom said...

...what a delight, thanks for taking me in with you!