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Ethiopia, Lalibela: Bete Giyorgis, The Church of Saint George

01/05/2012

The Church of St. George (Amharic: Bete Giyorgis) is one of eleven monolithic churches in Lalibela, a city in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia.
Carved from the rock in the early thirteenth century, it is the most well known and last built of the eleven churches in the Lalibela area, and has been referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World“.

L'Eglise Beta Giorgis (Saint George), une des 11 églises monolithiques de Lalibela classées au patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/18_Photo Jialiang Gao www.peace-on-earth.org_January 2002_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bete_Giyorgis_Lalibela_Ethiopia.jpgPhoto Jialiang Gao, January 2002.

The dimensions of the complex are 25 meters by 25 meters by 30 meters, and there is a small baptismal pool outside the church, which stands in an artificial trench.

Bete_Giyorgis_church_Lalibela_01_Photo Giustino Taken on August 20, 2005_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bet_Giyorgis_church_Lalibela_01.jpgPhoto Giustino, August 2005

According to Ethiopian cultural history, Bete Giyorgis was built after King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty had a vision in which he was instructed to construct the church; Saint George and God have both been referred to as the one who gave him the instructions.

Bete Giyorgis_St. George_Wall paintings decorate the interior of the rock-cut Church of St. George at Lalibela; some depict the life of St. George, who is said to have supervised the church's construction. According to legend, his horse left a hoof print that is still visible in the courtyard of the church._Text from Microsoft EncartaWall paintings decorate the interior of the rock-cut Church of St. George at Lalibela; some depict the life of St. George, who is said to have supervised the church’s construction. According to legend, his horse left a hoof print that is still visible in the courtyard of the church.

Bete Giyorgis_Church door_http://www.galenfrysinger.com/lalibela_ethiopia.htmChuch door

As of 2006, Lalibela is still a pilgrimage site for members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church; the church itself is part of the UNESCO World Heritage SiteRock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela“.
Church of Saint George, Lalibela – The Eighth Wonder of the World

Bete Giyorgis_The priest_http://www.galenfrysinger.com/lalibela_ethiopia.htmThe priest.

Ethiopia (/ˌiːθiˈoʊpiə/) (Ge’ez: ኢትዮጵያ ʾĪtyōṗṗyā), officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa.
It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2.
Ethiopia is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south.
With its capital at Addis Ababa, it is also the most populous landlocked nation in the world.

Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history, and the Ethiopian dynasty traces its roots to the 2nd century BC.
Ethiopia is also one of the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists today, having yielded some of humanity’s oldest traces.
It may be the region from which Homo sapiens first set out for the Middle East and points beyond.
Alongside Rome, China and Persia, the Ethiopian Aksum Empire was considered one of the four great world powers of the 3rd century.
During the Scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was the only African country beside Liberia that retained its sovereignty as a recognized independent country, and was one of only four African members of the League of Nations.
After a brief period of Italian occupation, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations.
When other African nations received their independence following World War II, many of them adopted the colors of Ethiopia’s flag, and Addis Ababa became the location of several international organizations focused on Africa.

Modern Ethiopia and its current borders are a result of significant territorial reduction in the north and expansion in the south toward its present borders, owing to several migrations and commercial integration as well as conquests, particularly by Emperor Menelik II and Ras Gobena.
In 1974, the dynasty led by Haile Selassie was overthrown as civil wars intensified. Since then, Ethiopia has seen a variety of governmental systems.
The country has one of the most powerful militaries in Africa and Addis Ababa is the headquarters of the continental African Standby Force (ASF).
Ethiopia is the only African country where an indigenous alphabet is still widely used.
Ethiopia also has its own time system and unique calendar, seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar.
It has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa.

The country is a land of natural contrasts, with waterfalls and volcanic hot springs.
Ethiopia has some of Africa’s highest mountains as well as some of the world’s lowest points below sea level.
The largest cave in Africa is located in Ethiopia at Sof Omar.
Ethiopia has one of the largest number of rivers in the world while the country’s northernmost area at Dallol, Afar is the hottest place year-round anywhere on Earth.
Ethiopia is a multilingual, multicultural and multiethnic society of around 80 groups, with the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara, both of which speak Afro-Asiatic languages.
The country is also famous for its Olympic gold medallists in running, rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, and as the place where the coffee bean originated.
Currently, Ethiopia is the top coffee and honey-producing country in Africa, and home to the largest livestock population in Africa.
The Ethiopian Aksum region was the first major empire in the world to convert to Christianity and it was one of the first countries to officially adopt Christianity as a state religion in the 4th century.
Ethiopia has a Christian majority and a third of the population is Muslim.
Ethiopia is the site of the first Hijra in Islamic history and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash.
Until the 1980s, a substantial population of Ethiopian Jews resided in Ethiopia.
The country is also the spiritual homeland of the Rastafari religious movement.

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