The Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahado Church

Ethiopian Christianity, exceptionally, straddles the African and Semitic worlds. But Christianity in Ethiopia, adopted in the fourth century by the Aksumite king Ezana, also retained links with other Eastern Christian areas as well as with western Europe. Christianity purportedly came to Ethiopia with two brothers from Syria, with its first and subsequent bishops appointed by Coptic patriarchs from the Coptic church of Alexandria. The first bishop, Frumentius, one of the brothers, was a contemporary of St Antony; monasticism had developed in Ethiopia by the sixth century and, as in Egypt, became a hallmark of art and culture. The holy man remained an influential spiritual force, contributing to the spread of Christianity in the early centuries as well as acting as a powerful reminder of the traditional roots of Ethiopian religion at times of political and religious change, such as that experienced in the fourteenth century. Much is lost of Ethiopia's heritage, as a result of the destruction by the Falasha Oueen Yodit in the tenth century, and in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries, and during the invasions by the Muslim leader from eastern Ethiopia, Ah. mad ibn-Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmad Gran in Ethiopian) in the 1530s. He was eventually defeated and killed in 1543 with the aid of the Portuguese, ushering in an era of Jesuit influence. Home of the western legend of the Christian ruler Prester John since the early fourteenth century, Ethiopia had long been sought as an ally by western and other eastern Christians as an ally against Islam.

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