Around dawn, thousands of worshippers gathered at the church in Amhara, the second-largest region of Ethiopia.
Saint Michael is one of the major saints in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, a centuries-old faith at the heart of an ancient and proud civilization that has evolved into Africa's second-most populous nation.
The devotees -- some bent over canes and others clutching children -- offered prayers to Saint Michael in a church bearing his name and topped with metal crosses and a soaring Ethiopian flag in the city of Bahir Dar.
The crowd erupted into cheers at the arrival of the ark, the origin of which is believed by Orthodox Ethiopians to be housed in Axum, an ancient town in the war-torn and famine-scarred region of Tigray.
No mention is made of the conflict that has ravaged the mountainous northern region for seven months or the violent ethnic unrest that afflicted other parts of the country, including Amhara.