Meskel in Lalibela

Lalibela, Ethiopia, Meskel, ceremony, cross, fire



Meskel (meaning cross) ceremony is one of the most colorful ceremonies on the Ethiopian highlands. The Ethiopian Orthodox church is celebrating the finding of the ‘true’ cross by Helena, Constantine’s mother in the year 324 AD.  According to the believe, she was looking for the cross for a while, and could not find it. One day, in her dream she sew a vision. The angles appeared and ordered her to light a big fire, and follow the smoke. Next morning she did so, and the smoke led her to a heap of soil, there, after digging, she found the remains of the cross. Parts of that cross arrived and kept by the Coptic in Egypt.

Years later, on the 15th century, when the Muslims in Egypt treated badly the Coptic, The Emperor Dawit sent his troop to help this small christian community. As reword, they offered him gifts of gold. The Emperor declined the gifts, but asked instead for pieces of the true cross.

It is believed that the gift of the true cross is kept in Gishen Miriam Monastery.

Up to day, the arrival of the cross to Ethiopia is celebrated by taking out all the crosses from the churches, and in the height of the ceremony, lighting a big fire as remembrance of Helena.