What Did Europeans Think of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church?

what did europeans think of the ethiopian orthodox church

Alexander Bulatovich traveled to Ethiopia in 1896 as a Russian Orthodox Christian and kept meticulous journals detailing his observations of life there, particularly its religious traditions. These diaries contain invaluable insight into Ethiopian society at that time.

Bulatovich discovers that Ethiopian Christianity is less exotic and foreign than he expected, and shares more similarities with Russian Orthodoxy than he had believed before.


Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Christian denominations in Africa and one of only a few that do not recognize Communion with the Catholic Church.

Ethiopia first encountered Christianity during the fourth century; however, how it was received is unknown. Some suggest it came through St. Frumentius from Tyre, sent there by Emperor Aedesius; other theories point toward merchants from Rome spreading it across Ethiopia.

Christianity in Ethiopia did not spread through missionary activity alone, yet remained a driving force of Ethiopian society for centuries to come. Kings and monarchs frequently attempted to introduce it through political means, with churches serving an integral role.

In the Middle Ages, Ethiopia was administratively linked with Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church and had close ties between them until sometime around 15th Century when Jesuits gained control. Ethiopia did not support Jesuitism however and when Emperor Susniyos adopted Roman Catholicism as his official religion instead, Ethiopia lost access to its own Orthodox patriarch and eventually left Egypt union altogether.

Ethiopian church maintained its presence in Jerusalem through the establishment of a monastery; however, when Fascist dictator Mussolini took control of Italy in the 1930s this connection was lost.

Today, churches play a vital spiritual and cultural role in Ethiopia, serving as repositories for Ethiopia’s rich cultural, religious, and political heritage.

Ethiopians can find many churches throughout their country besides Addis Ababa as a primary worship location, in both urban and rural settings.

Ethiopian churches tend to be built in a basilican style, featuring a central sanctuary. Furthermore, many feature courtyards and thatched roofs.

This church also follows dietary rules similar to Jewish kashrut, which prohibits eating pork and certain dairy products. Women are separated from men within the church and expected to cover their heads during services – similar to many Orthodox synagogues.


Ethiopian Orthodox Church education system is unique and developed over many years; it continues today.

Education exists to impart knowledge and inform people of various subjects, while simultaneously helping people develop critical thinking abilities, social relationships, and needs.

Religious education is an integral component of Christianity in Ethiopian Orthodox Church and should begin at birth and continue throughout adulthood. Activities associated with it range from studying religious texts (Bible etc), participating in church services, and serving others.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church education is built upon an oral tradition dating back centuries. The curriculum encompasses hymnody, music, poetry and dance as well as more formal theological interpretation.

Though many modern teachers may be unfamiliar with this tradition, it remains practiced at church schools across the nation. It represents an alternative way of learning that challenges traditional models of education that tend to focus more heavily on linear instruction from an instructor.

An essential tenet of this type of education is its focus on developing individual identities rather than simply teaching facts to prepare students for employment. This approach to education is far superior to current systems which merely aim at imparting information.

Education should be an individual experience. Teachers must act as mentors who care for and guide their students outside the classroom environment.

While in class, pupils are taught various subjects such as theological interpretation, church law, history, grammar and composition. Furthermore, pupils learn how to memorize prayers of the church in both Amharic and Geez – memorization exercises often continue for months or even years until pupils can recite them by heart.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church stands out as being an institution with a long and rich tradition of providing education for both clergymen and lay clerks. Their church boasts schools at both primary and secondary levels as well as six clergy training centres and a theological seminary for this purpose.


Ethiopian Orthodox Churches are among the oldest Christian congregations. Their traditions stem from Apostles’ teaching and strong Ethiopian roots; these Eastern Orthodox Churches can be found across Ethiopia with headquarters located in Addis Ababa.

The church teaches that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s God is the Creator of our universe. Furthermore, Jesus was his son born of the Holy Spirit through human conception – this doctrine known as The Mysterious Trinity is central to its theology and spirituality.

Church teachings also emphasize that the Bible is God’s inspired word and that Jesus is our Saviour, having died on the cross for our sins and risen again from death. Additionally, they stress the importance of living lives filled with prayerful commitment to living the spiritual life. Finally, members are also instructed in understanding that their Holy Spirit lives inside each member.

Christianity is practiced by most Ethiopians and an integral part of daily life. According to a recent survey, 78% reported attending at least weekly services; 98% considered religion “very important.”

Many Ethiopians believe in God, miracles and healing are possible with his help, demons exist but can be cast away with prayer and sacrifice.

Christians may believe they can get special revelation from God that could help them address personal difficulties. The church teaches that people can get closer to God through prayer and fasting.

Church attendance is on the rise across Africa. Church leaders have made journeys abroad to spread their beliefs – including President of Ethiopia who himself is an Orthodox Christian.


Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity boasts a distinct culture, which blends Christian beliefs about saints and angels with pre-Christian beliefs about benevolent and malevolent spirits. Additionally, Ethiopian Christians possess an expansive canon of scripture compared to most traditional Christians that includes both the Book of Enoch as well as three books of Maccabees.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church culture is marked by strong sense of religious identity and deep commitment to its teachings, making religion an essential element in many lives and contributing to national identity.

Orthodox Ethiopian Christians tend to be more conservative on social issues than other Orthodox Christians surveyed; they express higher levels of moral opposition against homosexuality, prostitution, abortion, divorce and alcohol consumption. Furthermore, they believe their religion to be the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven and that there exists only one method for properly interpreting its teachings.

Ethiopian Christianity has a long tradition of exorcisms – the process of banishing evil spirits from one’s body – as an effective spiritual healing practice.

An Ethiopian church service typically features the recitation of creed, reading of Bible passages and distribution of Holy Qurbana or Communion by priest as part of their spiritual experience. The Holy Qurbana may then be distributed back out again as an integral component of spiritual practice.

Ethiopian Orthodox churches are designated buildings set aside specifically for divine worship, known as churches. An Ethiopian church building typically comprises three sections – queddest (innermost part), maqdes/sanctuary and maqdes/ambos (outermost section).

Ethiopian Orthodox churches are constructed using stone and wood construction with elaborately carved decorations representing various aspects of Christian faith. Alongside the main church, smaller “houses” exist where Ethiopian community members meet during the week for prayer services or religious activities.

On Sundays, all churchgoers present receive communion; however, during fasting periods it is distributed only to those physically incapable of attending services.

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