Monday, January 9, 2023
"Look, Mommy! It's a dragon!" is what our three year old daughter exclaimed as we exited the van to enter Saint George's Cathedral in Addis Ababa. There surely was a dragon on a 20' x 20' canopy over the stone gate entrance to the church's property. It was an image of Saint George slaying the dragon. Saint George is the patron saint of Ethiopia. Christian tradition has it that Saint George was from modern day Turkey. A dragon terrorized a village by making the villagers pay tribute each year. When the villagers ran out of trinkets and livestock to give the dragon, they offered the princess. Saint George, riding a horse, slayed the dragon, saving both the princess and the villagers. Saint George is often invoked to defeat evil.
Our family visited Saint George's Cathedral and Museum. Cathedral in the Ethiopian Orthodox context does not mean "seat of the bishop" as it does in the Western Christian context. In this case, cathedral means "non-monastic." We saw the crowns of Ethiopian monarchs such as His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I. There were clergy vestments, crosses, umbrellas, and other liturgical clothing.
The church structure is octagonal with three concentric circles. Eight is an important number in Christianity. Eight is the number of new birth, resurrection, and new life. Most baptismal fonts are octagonal in shape. Jesus rose from the dead on the "eighth" day (Sunday being the first day of the new week.) Jesus was named in the temple on the eighth day of his earthly life. Historically, babies were baptized on the eighth day. There are three areas inside the church. The outer ring is for worship, dancing, and prayer. The center ring is for the administration of the Holy Communion. The third ring is the Holy of Holies and reserved only for ordained clergy. It is where the replica Ark of the Covenant is located.
The Archdeacon gave us a tour. We played the Kebero which is the liturgical drum with a large drum head on one end and a smaller drum head on the opposite end. There were many images and icons of Saint George. We are convinced our daughter located each one.
"Zoom, zoom, zoom! We're going to the moon!" is a nursery rhyme heard often in our home. We visited Friendship Park, a newly constructed play park for children. It is arguably one of the best children's park we have ever visited. There is even a rocket ship with a slide. We spent three hours in the sun playing, running, laughing, and having fun.
Mama's Kitchen left us feeling full and satisfied after an afternoon of play!