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Lalibela [The Mystery of Ethiopia's Extraordinary Excavated Churches]
Sacred Destinations ^

Posted on 03/03/2011 6:48:08 AM PST by marshmallow

The small town of Lalibela in Ethiopia is home to one of the world's most astounding sacred sites: eleven rock-hewn churches, each carved entirely out of a single block of granite with its roof at ground level.
Bet Giorgis (St. George)

Were it not for these extraordinary churches, Lalibela would almost certainly be well off the tourist radar. A dusty rural town nestled into rolling countryside, Lalibela only recently received electricity. It has few motorized vehicles, no gas stations and no paved streets. Isolated from the modern world, the town goes about its business much as it has for several hundred years.

Of Lalibela's 8-10,000 people, over 1,000 are priests. Religious ritual is central to the life of the town, with regular processions, extensive fasts, crowds of singing and dancing priests. This, combined with its extraordinary religious architecture and simplicity of life, gives the city of Lalibela a distinctively timeless, almost biblical atmosphere.

History

The town of Lalibela was originally known as Roha. It was renamed after the 12th-century King Lalibela, who commissioned these extraordinary churches. Lalibela was a member of the Zagwe dynasty, which had seized the Ethiopian throne around 1000 AD. When his rivals began to increase in power, Lalibela sought the support of the powerful Ethiopian Orthodox Church by building the churches in this small town.

King Lalibela's goal was to create a New Jerusalem for those who could not make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (and to create a sacred city to rival powerful Axum, with its Ark of the Covenant). According to some reports, he had been to the Holy Land himself and was inspired by what he saw.


(Excerpt) Read more at sacred-destinations.com ...


TOPICS: Catholic; History; Orthodox Christian; Worship
KEYWORDS: ethiopia; godsgravesglyphs; lalibela
The churches of Lalibela were not constructed — they were excavated. Each church was created by first carving out a wide trench on all four sides of the rock, then painstakingly chiseling out the interior. The largest church is 40 feet high, and the labor required to complete such a task with only hammers and chisels is astounding.

More pictures at link.


1 posted on 03/03/2011 6:48:11 AM PST by marshmallow
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: marshmallow

Wow, those pictures are absolutely amazing.
Stunning


3 posted on 03/03/2011 6:53:57 AM PST by mel (I DONATE to FR monthly...Do You?????)
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To: marshmallow

Nowhere in the article does it explain why they were built underground. Was it cooler or what?


4 posted on 03/03/2011 6:54:32 AM PST by bgill (Kenyan Parliament - how could a man born in Kenya who is not even a native American become the POTUS)
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To: marshmallow

This is fascinating...thanks!


5 posted on 03/03/2011 6:58:29 AM PST by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo...Sum Pro Vita. (Modified Decartes))
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To: bgill
That's the mystery.

The churches are entirely hidden from view from all but a short distance away, so one school of thought says that it was to keep them safe from those who might wish to destroy them.

6 posted on 03/03/2011 6:59:13 AM PST by marshmallow ("A country which kills its own children has no future" -Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
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To: bgill
Nowhere in the article does it explain why they were built underground.

Because that's where the rock was.

7 posted on 03/03/2011 7:02:57 AM PST by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: marshmallow; fabian

Wow, that is amazing. Thanks for this....never heard of them before.


8 posted on 03/03/2011 7:03:12 AM PST by abigail2
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To: abigail2

The orthodox Ethiopian church is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. Supposedly founded by the Apostle Mark in 45 AD. Amazingly enough, one can go to youtube.com and hear orthodox Ethiopian church hymns.

Try it you may like it.


9 posted on 03/03/2011 7:13:23 AM PST by Citizen Tom Paine (An old sailor sends)
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To: marshmallow

The amount of skill involved in removing the surrounding stone is amazing~


10 posted on 03/03/2011 7:20:10 AM PST by OpusatFR
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To: marshmallow

One of the parishioners at our Greek Orthodox parish is from Lalibela. His wife’s family is from Axum, also mentioned in the article. They are very devout Orthodox people.

They had a baby girl three years ago. They named her Martha, “after Martha Washington because she is an American baby!” You just gotta love these folks!


11 posted on 03/03/2011 7:31:39 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: SunkenCiv

Below grade ping.


12 posted on 03/03/2011 7:32:40 AM PST by Rebelbase
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To: marshmallow

fascinating. thank you marshmallow

of course “Miss Geography Dolly Cali” had to go to Google Maps to see where in the heck Lalibela was. (I SORT OF KNOW WHERE Ethiopia is in Africa!)


13 posted on 03/03/2011 8:26:02 AM PST by DollyCali (Don't tell God how big your storm is... tell your storm how BIG your God is!)
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To: DollyCali

LOL..........


14 posted on 03/03/2011 8:28:13 AM PST by marshmallow ("A country which kills its own children has no future" -Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
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To: bgill; marshmallow

***Nowhere in the article does it explain why they were built underground. Was it cooler or what?***

Many, many years ago a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine had an article about Ethieopian churches.

In the article it said the moslems destroyed so many churches that the Christians began to hack new churches ot of living rock that could not be burned.


15 posted on 03/03/2011 9:52:29 AM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Visit the TOMMY FRANKS MILITARY MUSEUM in HOBART, OK. I did, well worth it!)
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To: Kolokotronis

“They are very devout Orthodox people.”

With Lent arriving within days, food is on my mind!

The combination of Greek cooking and Ethiopean dishes is causing me to drool.


16 posted on 03/03/2011 10:10:56 AM PST by OpusatFR
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To: OpusatFR; Kolokotronis
The combination of Greek cooking and Ethiopean dishes is causing me to drool.

My love of Greek cooking runs strictly to roast lamb and ouzo. Often in combination...

17 posted on 03/03/2011 10:47:30 AM PST by MarkBsnr (I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so..)
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To: MarkBsnr
"My love of Greek cooking runs strictly to roast lamb and ouzo. Often in combination... "

Hopefully not during Great Lent!

18 posted on 03/03/2011 1:03:33 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: OpusatFR; MarkBsnr
"The combination of Greek cooking and Ethiopean dishes is causing me to drool."

Mix in some good Lebanese/Syrian food and wine from the Bekaa Valley and you've gone to culinary heaven! I expect I'll be eating lentils and cheese for dinner............oh well!

19 posted on 03/03/2011 1:06:36 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

Good idea.


20 posted on 03/03/2011 3:24:57 PM PST by bgill (Kenyan Parliament - how could a man born in Kenya who is not even a native American become the POTUS)
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To: Kolokotronis

Yeah, we have to enjoy that cheese while we can!

(We had shrimp with tomatoes, lemon, dill, and feta for dinner!)


21 posted on 03/03/2011 4:52:36 PM PST by FormerLib (Sacrificing our land and our blood cannot buy protection from jihad.-Bishop Artemije of Kosovo)
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To: marshmallow

Beautiful Catholic/Orthodox Art and Architecture!

Wow!


22 posted on 03/03/2011 4:59:29 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Kolokotronis
"My love of Greek cooking runs strictly to roast lamb and ouzo. Often in combination... "

Hopefully not during Great Lent!

Can we get a pass on March 17?

23 posted on 03/03/2011 6:20:42 PM PST by MarkBsnr (I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so..)
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To: Rebelbase; GSP.FAN; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; ...

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24 posted on 03/03/2011 7:10:48 PM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: MarkBsnr
"Can we get a pass on March 17? "

EVERYONE knows that March 17 is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the various Latin Rite Ordinaries. Thankfully, our local one, something of a jerk and generally disliked in other respects, has traditionally exercised economia and lifted the fast for that most joyous of days....You however will have to take that up with your local bishop.

25 posted on 03/03/2011 7:28:06 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: mel

Great article. Wish I had about six months to devote entirely to this subject.


26 posted on 03/03/2011 7:35:35 PM PST by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: Kolokotronis

My local bishop does not think very highly of me right now. Last Sunday we had the ‘planning meeting’ for the diocese in which the bishop had the cannibal’s victims planning who would be first to go - preparation for closing parishes in light of the priest shortage.

They set up areas around one local church’s gathering area in which one could self identify as ‘mad’, ‘sad’, ‘scared’ and some other mealy mouthed designations. There was only myself and one anonymous priest who declined to speak in our area - guess which. I spoke rousingly to the TV camera. Prior to this, I had virtually monopolized the Q&A time with the good bishop. The upshot was that he was very uncomfortable and there wasn’t anything that he could do about it.

After the meeting was over, I approached him and struck up a conversation. I asked him to not take my questions unamiss. He assured me that he didn’t. I then congratulated him on not answering any of them. At that point, he came unglued and starting stammering and sweating. He then glanced at his watch and said that he had to go and scampered off like a chipmunk.

He has 6 years until retirement. Perhaps I shall help fill his days with meaning until then...


27 posted on 03/03/2011 7:43:22 PM PST by MarkBsnr (I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so..)
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To: mel

This should make your heart sing.

http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/vod/AL32v1_WS


28 posted on 03/03/2011 7:43:34 PM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: bgill; SunkenCiv; blam; All

Here is a link that explains that these churches were NOT carved out of granite (which would have been almost impossible) but out of volcanic tuff, a much softer material. Still a major achievement. The article also explains the politics and why it was hidden, thank the Muslims once again, among others.

http://www.ethiopiatravel.com/Lalibela_eng.htm


29 posted on 03/03/2011 9:20:56 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: MarkBsnr
"He has 6 years until retirement. Perhaps I shall help fill his days with meaning until then..."

It is always the laity's position to do God's work in The Church! :)

30 posted on 03/04/2011 3:14:36 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: Kolokotronis

Awesome and the kinds of new Americans we need.


31 posted on 03/04/2011 3:50:36 AM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: FormerLib
"(We had shrimp with tomatoes, lemon, dill, and feta for dinner!)"

Fancy Serb! I think I'll have lobster this weekend, so there!

32 posted on 03/04/2011 3:59:52 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: marshmallow
Thank you for osting. The churches are absolutely amazing. A friend's son worked in Ethiopia (publishing a magazine) and they went to visit him a number of years ago. She brought me an Ethiopian cross which remains one of most favorite pieces of jewellry to wear to church. It is silver and I wear it on a fine, long, silver box chain, although traditionally they are worn on a blue cord, or a leather cord, that is given to children at birth. I'm told that no two are alike, but they often share the filigree border. Some have an arch across the top indicating that their sacred nature. Many of them recall Biblical stories. I have several crosses, but my Ethiopian cross is my favorite.


33 posted on 03/04/2011 8:48:45 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: 1010RD; Kolokotronis

And lest we forget Martha Washington was named after who else-—Martha the sister of Lazarus and Mary -— the name itself originates from the Aramaic “martha” meaning “lady” or “mistress.”


34 posted on 03/04/2011 11:58:59 AM PST by eleni121 ("All Along the Watchtower" Book of Isaiah, Chapter 21, verses 5-9)
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To: marshmallow; SunkenCiv

It’s easy to see why there are no cars in the village. Going to church on Wed. night could be a serious problem with those excavations as speed bumps.


35 posted on 03/04/2011 1:26:34 PM PST by wildbill (You're just jealous because the Voices talk only to me.)
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To: bgill; SunkenCiv; blam; All

Here is a link about Ethiopian muslims attacking and destroying 5 churches in Ethiopia now. Guess they wish they were hidden too.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2683790/posts


36 posted on 03/04/2011 2:13:23 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: eleni121

Martha calls me “Theo”, and I get to hold her during the liturgy as long as my back holds out. I always get a big wet kiss! She’s my “mavritsa koukla”!


37 posted on 03/04/2011 2:47:19 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: gleeaikin

Thanks for the informative links.


38 posted on 03/04/2011 2:56:36 PM PST by bgill (Kenyan Parliament - how could a man born in Kenya who is not even a native American become the POTUS)
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To: gleeaikin

Thanks gleeaikin!


39 posted on 03/04/2011 5:03:38 PM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: wildbill

:’)


40 posted on 03/04/2011 5:13:34 PM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: Kolokotronis
An Ethiopian Orthodox congregation bought a church in our neighborhood from a Baptist congregation that had become too small. The place looks packed during services. The women dress to the nines in beautiful dresses and shawls.
41 posted on 03/09/2011 1:58:35 PM PST by colorado tanker
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To: colorado tanker
"The women dress to the nines in beautiful dresses and shawls."

Yes, generally all in white. If you were to go inside, you would notice that the women take their shoes off before entering the nave, because that is God's House and thus holy ground. America is blessed to have such people as immigrants.

42 posted on 03/09/2011 2:37:51 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: SeaDragon

Wow.


43 posted on 03/09/2011 2:50:03 PM PST by RikaStrom (Pray for Obama - Psalm 109:8 "Let his days be few; and let another take his place of leadership.")
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