28 September 2011
Ethiopia: Christians Celebrate Discovery of Jesus Crucifix
Luc Van Kemenade
28 September 2011
Tens of millions of people in Ethiopia celebrated their annual Meskel
eve on Tuesday, an Orthodox Christian festival that landmarks the
discovery of the "true cross" of Jesus Christ by Saint Helena and the
end of the rainy season.
In Addis Ababa the streets are strewn with fresh, yellow-coloured,
daisies, called Meskel flowers in Ethiopia's national language
Amharic, turning the capital city into a colourful bouquet.
On every corner people dressed in white, pile wood, grasses and daisy
flowers into pyramid-like bundles, called demera to make into bonfires
Ethiopians are honouring Saint Helena's discovery of Jesus' crucifix
in Israel in the fourth century. Helena, who was the first Christian
empress of Rome, is believed to have given the right wing of the cross
as a gift to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
The flank is buried near a monastery in Wollo in Ethiopia's northern
highlands, says the church. Ethiopia has a population of over 80
million people, almost half of which are Orthodox Christians.
The heart of the celebration can be found Meskel Square in Addis
Ababa's town centre. Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians dressed in
elegant robes flock to the slopes of the square to attend a mass led
by the Ethiopian patriarch Abune Pawlos.
Priests and deacons clap, sing and parade to the sound of large drums.
Crowd members, often held back by policemen, sing, pray and hold up
their eucalyptus candles, turning the stairs into a carpet of light.
In the grand finale of the celebration, the patriarch sets fire to a
giant demera at the centre of the square, symbolising the way Saint
Helena was said to have found the cross that Jesus was crucified on.
According to the legend the smoke from a fire guided her in the right
Once the fire is lit, there is no way to hold back the frenzied crowd.
People storm into the square to dance around the bonfire and then
reach into the ash to draw small crosses on their foreheads.
23 September 2011
Two ancient churches discovered in Failaka Island of Kuwait
The Department of Antiquities and Museums in the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters discovered two churches on the island of Failaka reports Al Watan daily. The first consists of three large rooms and three entrances and a tomb of a monk with a cross on it, and the second consists of one room, daily reported.
Al Watan reported, quoting the Director of the department Shihab Abdulhamid Shihab, that a study is being conducted on the churches and other monuments that have been discovered on the island which backdate to the early Islamic era. Additionally, an Islamic village established on the island which includes a mosque, two Mihrab were also found besides and a large Islamic castle called Al-Zour Castle. He pointed out that there are monuments dating back to more than 2200 years BC.
Shihab said that the inhabitants of the Kuwaiti coast before Islam were Christian fishermen, who moved to the islands near Kuwait, including the island of Failaka after the spread of Islam. He added that there are also other ancient civilizations on the island including the Macedonian civilization led by Alexander the Great, who called the Island Icarus.
16 September 2011
and I feast upon it. With its roots am I rooted and with its branches I
stretch out my arms. It's sap cleanses me and its breeze, like a fragrant
wind, makes me fruitful. Beneath its shadow I have set up my tent and,
escaping the terrible heat, I find there a haven of coolness. It is with its
flowers that I myself blossom and with its fruit that I take my greatest
delight. Yes, those fruits were kept for me from the beginning and I enjoy
them without end... When I tremble before God, this tree gives me shelter;
when I waver, it is my stay. It is the price of my battles and the prize of
my victories; it is my narrow way, steep path, Jacob's ladder where angels
ascend and descend and at whose top the Lord is supported indeed (Mt 7,14;
This tree of heavenly dimensions has been raised up from earth to sky; it is
an immortal plant, set between heaven and earth. Upholding all things,
bearing the universe, support of the inhabited world, it embraces the cosmos
and gathers together the diverse elements of human nature. For itself, it is
assembled of the invisible planks of the Spirit that it may not waver in its
conformity to the divine. Touching the heights of heaven with its top,
grounding the earth with its feet, and encircling with its great arms the
innumerable spaces of the atmosphere, it is wholly in all and around all...
It would have been of no account that the universe was blotted out, melted
with terror before the Passion, if our great Jesus had not infused the
divine Spirit in it when he said: "Father, into your hands I commend my
Spirit" (Lk 23,46)... Everything was shattered, yet when the divine Spirit
rose again the universe was re-animated, brought back to life and recovered
the firmness of its stability. God filled everything, everywhere, and the
crucifixion penetrated all things.
-- A Greek homily of the 4th century
On the holy Paschal mystery, 51, 63 ; PG 59, 743, SC 27 (inspired by a lost
sermon of Hippolytus)