St. George’s Cathedral: A Tribute to the Battle of Adwa

St. George Cathedral Addis Ababa 1While reading volumes of books, compound by UNESCO and written by mainly African intellectuals, about African History under the title of General History of Africa, I couldn’t help being mesmerized and start highlighting sentences and paragraphs, which spoke to me deeply and can relate to in so many ways, as an African learning about my own history.

For this installment, I choose the abridged edition of General History of Africa, VII African under Colonial Domination 1880 -1935, in order to honor the 123rd anniversary of the Battle of Adwa victory on March 2, 2019, by sharing excerpt from the book – paragraphs which stood out for me and which I think appropriate for the occasion.

From chapter 1 entitled: Africa and the colonial challenge, “ But by 1914, with the sole exception of Ethiopia and Liberia, the whole of Africa had been partitioned and occupied by the imperial powers of France, Britain, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and Italy and colonialism had been installed.”

From Chapter 11 entitled: Liberia and Ethiopia, 1880 – 1914: the survival of two African states, “Both Liberia and Ethiopia survived for a number of reasons, and the first main one was the very strong belief of the peoples of both countries that they were destined by the Almighty God to survive, a belief which very much strengthened their determination to resist all European encroachments and aggression. Growing largely out of the experience of involuntary servitude in the New World, there was embedded within the Liberian consciousness a firm faith in a divine being as controller of the destiny of the nation. Several Liberian presidents were ministers of the gospel. Indeed, Liberians have always viewed each major event in their history as the result of divine intervention. It is this same belief that underlies the much-quoted expression of Emperor Menelik of Ethiopia in 1893 that ‘Ethiopia has need of no one; she stretches out her hands unto God’. There is no doubt that this firm belief on the part of the peoples of these countries filled them with a determination that should go some way to explaining their successful opposition to the European onslaughts.”   and as an Ethiopian and an African it makes sense.

St. George’s Cathedral of Addis Ababa

St. George Cathedral Addis Ababa 2The unique octagonal church is ascribed by Emperor Menelik II in 1896, as a tribute to St. George whose relics accompanied Ethiopian worriers as a source of strength, divine protection and guidance during the battle of Adwa where Ethiopia secured victory over Italian invasion.

The Ethiopian Orthodox church of St. George, interestingly sits at the intersection between two squares dedicated to Emperor Menelik II and an Ethiopian bishop and martyr executed in 1936 by Italian authorities for denouncing colonialism – Abune Petros.

The church was partly destroyed in 1937 by Italian force who puts it on fire. And after the liberation in 1941, the church restored by Emperor Haile Selassie. The restoration involved the late distinguished Ethiopian Maitre Artiste World Laureate Afewerk Tekle for impressive paintings which are displaying on the wall until the present moment.

St. George Cathedral Addis Ababa 3St. George Cathedral Addis Ababa 4

St. George Cathedral Addis Ababa 5

King Solomon meets the Queen of Sheba

St. George Cathedral Addis Ababa 6

The Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie

It’s a historical church where Empress Zewditu of Ethiopia crowned in 1917 and where Emperor Hail Selassie crowned in 1930, which the latter makes the church a pilgrim’s journey for Rastafarians.

The church accompanied a remarkable museum, which I personally enjoyed very much and gave me a sense of self-respect and identity as it displays the sense of victory via the golden round shields decorated with metal elements, swords and graceful helmets and worrier robes made with lion’s mane – weaponry used at the Battle of Adwa.

St. George Cathedral Addis Ababa 7Embraced by trees and brimming with tranquil energy, the compound hosts the first statue of the Ethiopian Bishop and Martyr Abune Petros.

St. George Cathedral Addis Ababa 8

History has it, this is the first statue replaced by the second statue – now standing on Abune Petros Square – for more accurate representation of Ethiopian Bishop.

The small garden towards the Museum, beautifully embellished with interesting works of art – colorful paintings on traditional clay pots – portrays of prominent figures in Ethiopia and Africa history.

St. George Cathedral Addis Ababa 9To History!

About Sara Genene

I am a traveler... on an endless journey of self-discovery!
This entry was posted in Addis Ababa, Africa, Architecture, Art, Ethiopia, Historical Travel, History, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to St. George’s Cathedral: A Tribute to the Battle of Adwa

  1. tewodrossha says:

    Inspiring piece of writing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ERROL BENNETT says:

    Thank you for this, Sara, I visited the Cathedral a few years ago but was unaware of this part of the history, I know they just held the annual celebratory festival done by the Awi people in Adwa a few days ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. love these images – and the history

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Messai Abera says:

    Baptized at this magnificent cathedral , its indeed a place dear to my heart. Thanks for bringing up memories.:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sara Genene says:

      My two brothers also baptized at this historical and beautiful cathedral, so it has sentimental value to our family as well and thank you for sharing your beautiful story. God Bless!


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