The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS -

who may view it. In Steven Spiel­berg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, Har­ri­son Ford plays In­di­ana Jones who bat­tles a group of Nazis in search of the lost Ark – al­though their search doesn’t lead them to Ethiopia.

The tem­ple of the Ark ad­ja­cent to St Mary’s, of­fi­cially known as the Chapel of the Tablets, was moved from the ad­ja­cent old church be­cause a di­vine en­ergy from the stone com­mand­ments had cracked the floor where it was pre­vi­ously given pride of place. Em­peror Haile Se­lassie’s wife, Em­press Me­nen, paid for the con­struc­tion of the new chapel.

Dur­ing his visit, the Taoiseach viewed dec­o­rated 17th cen­tury Gospels in vel­lum, and looked at an­cient fres­coes of St Ge­orge slay­ing the dragon. He asked the guide there if it was true that the Ital­ians had tried to seize the Ark and bring it back to Italy when they in­vaded in 1935.

The in­ter­preter con­firmed that was the case, but said a holy power had en­abled Ethiopian sol­diers to de­feat the Ital­ians at THE tem­ple of St Mary of Zion dates back to around 300AD and claims to hold the great­est trea­sure in the Bi­ble – God’s Covenant, two stone tablets list­ing the Ten Com­mand­ments known as the Ark of the Covenant.

It is be­lieved that the Ark came to Ethiopia with the Em­peror Mene­lik af­ter he re­ceived it from his fa­ther, King Solomon.

A guardian monk spends the whole of his life pro­tect­ing the Ark, be­ing passed food from the out­side and he is the only per­son

the city of Axum — also home to the Queen of Sheba — and they had never ful­filled their mis­sion from Mus­solini.

He was also told that if the guardian monk dies with­out nam­ing a suc­ces­sor, the monks of St Zion elect a re­place­ment from within their own ranks.

The new guardian is then con­fined to the chapel for the rest of his life, to pray, burn in­cense, show rev­er­ence and re­pel all in­trud­ers – with a bell to ring in case of emer­gency.

his­toric: The Church of St Mary of Zion in Axum

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