Abuna Yemata Guh

A Brief History

Abuna Yemata Guh was built in honour of one of the Nine Saints of the Ethiopian Church, Abuna Yemata, in recognition of his work in helping to spread Christianity around the country during the late 5th Century.

Inaccessible for centuries, the site lay undisturbed due to its remote location, visited only by wandering monks and devout Christians. This seclusion allowed much of the artwork found inside to remain in near pristine condition.

The rock-hewn church was carved by Father Yemata during the fifth century. It is not known why he chose such a remote location, however historical accounts from the time report widespread persecution of Ethiopians of the then Christian minority, so many speculate he was evading enemies and capture.

Others claim Yemata was seeking solitude and isolation from the world, seeking a place of meditation and reflection, in the hopes of achieving true divinity.

Regardless of the reason behind its inception, the rock-hewn masterpiece stands as a testament to the power of faith. 

Abuna Yemata Guh

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Exploring the Church

The sun tries to creep in around the shoddy wooden doors, to no avail. Immediately outside the cave, the sun shines brightly, reflecting off the massive, orange sandstone cliffs. But head inside, and the rest of the world falls away, and you're left in the pitch black, barely illuminated by the flickering of dimly lit candles. 

The paintings found within the church date back to the 15th century and feature intricate patterns, religious iconography and depictions of nine of the twelve apostles. They were painted with materials derived from flowers, minerals and fruits found within the local area.

Hidden within the church lies a set of sacred scrolls, with colours and drawings animating the words on the page. 

Abuna Yemata Guh

The views from Abuna Yemata Guh, Tigray.

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