The spirit of a pure Christianity: Exploring Ethiopia’s stunning subterranean churches

The faithful wend their way towards the Bet Giyorgis – the 50ft-tall Church of St George carved into the volcanic rock of Lalibela by hand, shaped like a giant Greek cross (Photo: Evgeny Lebedev)
The faithful wend their way towards the Bet Giyorgis – the 50ft-tall Church of St George carved into the volcanic rock of Lalibela by hand, shaped like a giant Greek cross (Photo: Evgeny Lebedev)

When he ventured into the mysterious subterranean churches of Ethiopia, Evgeny Lebedev not only visited one of the world’s architectural marvels, he experienced a humble Orthodox Christianity which shames Russia’s own.

I wake up and don’t have a clue where I am. There is barely any light, hardly enough to pierce the curtains. But it’s not the gloom or the early start that has left me confused. It’s the ear-splitting chanting.

The noise is in no language I’ve ever heard. Yet the sound is familiar, even if the language is not. I have heard it in Istanbul, the Gulf, parts of Jerusalem. It sounds almost exactly like an imam calling the faithful to prayer.

Yet I am in Ethiopia, the cradle of an ancient form of Christianity, and the hotel at which I am staying is in Lalibela, one of the country’s most Christian sites; there are no mosques nearby. So what is going on?

Read more at: The Independent

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