What The historical route of Menebere Salama?

Mekelle: 29 December 2023 (Tigray Herald)

By Yerga Yaecobe

What The historical route of Menebere Salama, also known as the Aksum Tigray Orthodox Church, is a fascinating journey that spans centuries and holds significant cultural and religious importance. Aksum is an ancient city in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa. The journey of Menebere Salama can be traced through different periods, each marked by its own historical events and developments.

Early Centuries:
The origins of the Aksum Tigray Orthodox Church can be traced back to the early centuries of the Christian era. According to tradition, Christianity was introduced to the Aksumite Kingdom in the 4th century, during the reign of King Ezana, who converted to Christianity and made it the state religion. This marked the beginning of the Christian faith in the region and laid the foundation for the establishment of churches like Menebere Salama.

Medieval Period (5th – 15th centuries):
During the medieval period, Aksum was a major center of Christian civilization in the Horn of Africa. The city flourished economically and culturally, attracting pilgrims and scholars from various regions. Menebere Salama likely gained prominence during this time, becoming a significant religious and cultural site for Orthodox Christians.

Rise of the Zagwe Dynasty (12th – 13th centuries):
The Zagwe Dynasty emerged as a ruling power in the region, succeeding the Aksumite Kingdom. The Zagwe kings continued the patronage of Christianity and contributed to the development and expansion of churches like Menebere Salama. Lalibela, another historic town in Ethiopia, also witnessed the construction of the famous rock-hewn churches during this era.

The Solomonic Dynasty (13th – 20th centuries):
The Zagwe Dynasty was eventually overthrown by the Solomonic Dynasty, which claimed its lineage from the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The Solomonic rulers upheld Christianity and continued to support the growth of the Orthodox Church in Aksum and throughout Ethiopia. Menebere Salama remained an important religious site during this period.

Ottoman and Egyptian Invasions (16th – 19th centuries):
Ethiopia faced invasions from various external forces, including the Ottomans and Egyptians. These invasions posed significant challenges to the stability and continuity of religious institutions like Menebere Salama. However, despite these difficulties, the church managed to survive and retain its significance.

Modern Era (20th century – Present):
Ethiopia underwent dramatic changes in the 20th century, including the rise and fall of Emperor Haile Selassie, the Italian occupation during World War II, and the eventual establishment of a communist regime in 1974. Throughout these political and social upheavals, the Aksum Tigray Orthodox Church, including Menebere Salama, remained an essential spiritual and cultural hub for the local community and Orthodox Christians in general.

In recent times, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has seen a revival and gained prominence within the global Orthodox community. Pilgrims from around the world visit Aksum to explore its historical and religious treasures, making Menebere Salama a continuing center of devotion and pilgrimage.

Please note that the historical information provided here is based on knowledge up until September 2021. Since my knowledge is not current beyond that date, there might have been further developments or research on this topic since then.

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