Addis Ababa – The eve of the finding of the true cross (Meskel) holiday is being celebrated colorfully in Addis Ababa.
Meskel festival is one of the major religious events in Ethiopia.
High government officials, diplomats and other distinguished guests are celebrating Demera on the eve of the holiday Meskel, at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa.
Speaking at the celebration of Demera, the torching of bonfire to symbolize the smoke that led Empress Helena to the true cross, Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarch, Abune Mathias said Meskel (the True Cross) is the spiritual secret that unites people with love and forgiveness.
The festival is a cultural asset inherited from forefathers who celebrated it by preaching peace, unity and forgiveness that fellow Ethiopians have to maintain, he noted.
His Holiness Abune Mathias condemned the damages and attacks perpetrated on churches of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and its followers in some parts of the country.
He also called on all Ethiopians to stand for peace and unity.
In his message to those celebrating the festival, Addis Ababa Deputy Mayor Takele Umma said his government stands with the church in protecting it.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is a mother for all Ethiopians and it is a home of heritages as well as school of ethical education and base for Ethiopian cultures, he noted.
All Ethiopians should, therefore, respect the church, the deputy mayor stressed.
The Roman Empress Helena received a vision in a dream telling her where to find the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified.
Accordingly, she made a bonfire and the smoke gave her direction to the spot where the cross was buried.Thereby she lit torches so as to herald the finding of the cross.
In the middle ages, half of the cross was given to Emperor Dawit I and housed in the Mount Amba Geshen in northern Ethiopia.
Meskel Festival was inscribed by UNESCO in 2013.