Ethiopia's Archangel Michael Prayers Tradition

Published June 21st, 2021 - 05:03 GMT

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.

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An Ethiopian Orthodox child gets a cross drawn in his forehead with ashes during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

An Ethiopian Orthodox child gets a cross drawn in his forehead with ashes during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

An Ethiopian Orthodox devotee waits to attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia

An Ethiopian Orthodox devotee waits to attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

An 8-year-old girl Ethiopian Orthodox devote is held by her father as they attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia

An 8-year-old girl Ethiopian Orthodox devote is held by her father as they attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

Young Ethiopian Orthodox devotees attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia

Young Ethiopian Orthodox devotees attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

Ethiopian Orthodox deacons hold crosses as they parade during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Orthodox deacons hold crosses as they parade during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

A man prepares to sell toys to Ethiopian Orthodox devotees before the start of the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration near St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia

A man prepares to sell toys to Ethiopian Orthodox devotees before the start of the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration near St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

An Ethiopian Orthodox child gets a cross drawn in his forehead with ashes during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
An Ethiopian Orthodox devotee waits to attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia
An 8-year-old girl Ethiopian Orthodox devote is held by her father as they attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia
Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Young Ethiopian Orthodox devotees attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia
Ethiopian Orthodox deacons hold crosses as they parade during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
A man prepares to sell toys to Ethiopian Orthodox devotees before the start of the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration near St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia
An Ethiopian Orthodox child gets a cross drawn in his forehead with ashes during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
An Ethiopian Orthodox child gets a cross drawn in his forehead with ashes during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP
An Ethiopian Orthodox devotee waits to attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia
An Ethiopian Orthodox devotee waits to attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
An 8-year-old girl Ethiopian Orthodox devote is held by her father as they attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia
An 8-year-old girl Ethiopian Orthodox devote is held by her father as they attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP
Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Ethiopian Orthodox devotees chant during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP
Young Ethiopian Orthodox devotees attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia
Young Ethiopian Orthodox devotees attend the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration at St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
Ethiopian Orthodox deacons hold crosses as they parade during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Ethiopian Orthodox deacons hold crosses as they parade during the religious celebration of Saint Michael in the city of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP
A man prepares to sell toys to Ethiopian Orthodox devotees before the start of the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration near St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia
A man prepares to sell toys to Ethiopian Orthodox devotees before the start of the Saint Michael's anniversary celebration near St. Michael church in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 19, 2021. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP