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A touching scene of a child burying himself in Mary’s robe as if asking for protection at the Salesian Youth Centre, Mekanisa, Addis Abeba.

Project of the Week in Ethiopia

Printing a book on the devotion to Mary

Ethiopia is an ancient Christian country. “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

 

This is what the Ethiopian man said to Philip in the Acts of the Apostles (8:36). This spontaneous decision, just a few years after the death of Jesus, marks the beginning of Christianity in Africa, and Ethiopia is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa in which Christianity put down permanent roots.

 

Almost 45 percent of Ethiopians belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The Catholic Church only became established in the country in the 19th century, and today Catholics still form only a tiny, albeit a very lively, minority.

 

Our Lady is greatly revered in Ethiopia, both by Orthodox and by Catholic Christians. In fact there are 33 Marian feasts in the Ethiopian Church year! Traditionally, great importance is attached to the “Covenant of Mercy,” also known as the “Covenant of the Lady Mary.”  This relates to a beautiful story about a covenant  believed to have been made between Mary and Jesus whereby Mary asks of her Son that every individual who in his lifetime has performed at least one good deed in her name may be spared from hell – for example someone who for her sake has given a thirsty person a sip of water.

 

This motif of the “Covenant of Mercy” is a common theme of Ethiopian icons, in which Mary and Jesus are portrayed side by side, holding hands. In fact pictures of the Virgin Mary of all kinds are extremely common, above all the image of Our Lady with the Child Jesus, but also depicting other scenes from her life, such as the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity and the Flight into Egypt. Meanwhile,  among Catholic Christians in Ethiopia numerous other Western images and statues of Mary have become popular and also widely revered.  Because the Blessed Mother is so important to the people, their is also great interest in learning more about international Marian shrines such as at Lourdes, Fatima and many others.

A better understanding Marian devotion

Ethiopian Capuchin Father Antonios Alberto has written a number of books on a variety of academic themes. Now he has written a book on devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, outlining the great importance of the Mother of God for the Church. In his book he describes the history of Marian devotion, explains the Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church and describes in detail the history of the major Marian shrines around the world. The book is 200 pages long and written in two languages – Amharic, the principal language spoken in Ethiopia, and English. A book of this nature has not been available before now to the Church in Ethiopia.

 

This book is intended to help deepen and strengthen knowledge of, and devotion to, the Mother of God among priests, religious, catechists and the Catholic faithful generally. It also holds the potential to become an important contribution to the work of ecumenism, since this book will also be valuable and interesting to Orthodox Christians, who, like Catholics, have a profound devotion to Our Lady.

 

Aid to the Church in Need is supporting the publication and printing of this book with a contribution of $9,490.

Click to donate!


 

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