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Monasteries and Monastic Monks in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a land of God, which since the time of the old Testament, through the biblical faith and Worship she followed, has produced innumerable Christians and saints of the Testament.


The biblical faith and worship in this country was able to bear so much fruit because the word of God, which was broadcasted, on the heart of the people was a seed which fell on fertile ground.


Although it is difficult to speak in figures about the many saintly laity who rose, in particular starting from the time of the transition of the country and people from the old Testament religion to the Christian faith when the word of the Gospel was heard in the first century A.D up to the time when the faith was strengthened in the 4 th century, it is possible to mention many examples.


In the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church those who became the saints of the Testament and the "shields of religion" did not only come from the monastic personalities. They emerged too from the ranks of those, like Henock, Noah, Abraham, Moses and the like, being in this world and shouldering family and community responsibility still performed deeds of sainthood. The source of life of the Ethiopian monasteries is the existence of such saints.


To be able to speak by turn and in order about the establishment of monasteries and monastic community members the pattern of their life, their kinds and number, the contribution past and present of monasteries and the monstic communities to the country ,it is essential recount briefly of the early history of monastic life. A “ Monastic person” is according to the practical definition a man of God, who lives without tasting refined and delicious food ,with out wearing colorful and warm clothes, who waters his mouth with dew of the grass, has stones as his pillow, is unscarred by the roaring noises of wild animals and the majesty of the night and shuns worldly life, reserves himself from needs of the flesh and from joy and happiness, avoids joy in all his daily life and dependency on others, relies on and helps himself, is fully engaged in fasting and praying and preoccupied on acts of martyrdom and goodness”.


The founder of such monastic life was the Egyptian hermit Father Antonio's who rose up in the 4 th century. The monastic rules and regulations were laid down by another Egyptian hermit Father Pachimos who also lived in the same century .That the monastic life,its regulations and its contemporary form and content, owes itself fundamentally to these saintly fathers is accepted by all churches at though it is necessary to make the history of these two persons the starting point of a discussion of monasticism, it is likewise essential to point out that another hermit called “the kind pauli” even before these two fathers was pursuing a similar kind of life in the wilderness.


The rules and regulation of monastic life do not permit that men and women pursue monastic communal life in the same monastery. It is believed that when the above-mentioned fathers first established monasteries for men, a certain woman named Mary, the sister of Father Pachimos, also established monasteries for women for women contemporaneously.


After these Fathers, monastic seclusion drew the attention of the whole world of Christendom and thus spread rapidly. Among the countries, which received this gift, Ethiopia is one of them. 

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