Why Are Tens Of Thousands Of Christians Celebrating In Ethiopia?

The Orthodox Ethiopian Church has celebrated the annual Meskel Festival this week to mark the legend that says Queen Helena in 326 AD discovered the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Christians lit a large bonfire and processed holding torches through the capital city of Addis Abada, forcing the city to a standstill. This is based on the belief that Helena prayed to find Jesus’ cross and was given a revelation in a dream.

According to legend she was told to light a bonfire and the smoke would direct her to where it was buried. So she told the people of Jerusalem to gather wood and after lighting it, the smoke fell on the place where the cross was buried.

The festival, also known as the ‘Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross’, is celebrated on the 26 and 27 September. Below are six stunning pictures from the celebration this year:



Abune Mathias, Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, attends the Meskel Festival at the Meskel Square in Ethiopia’s capital.


A church choir performs during the celebrations.


During the Meskel parade, the faithful carry torches in prayer.


Church choir members play the harp.

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