Pilgrims avoided Ethiopia’s historic churches at Easter
COVID-19 pandemic and recent fighting in Tigray sway tourists away from Lalibela rock churches.
Fewer than 600 tourists and pilgrims have visited the historic rock-hewn churches of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia this Easter when normally the area would see tens of thousands of visitors.
The churches reopened after a COVID-19 shutdown in time for this past weekend when the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrated the Resurrection of Christ.
Priests carried out age-old traditions, including reading Scripture by candlelight on the vigil of the feast.
“As they have done for hundreds of years on the Orthodox Easter weekend, priests wrapped in traditional white robes read the Bible by candlelight on Saturday evening in the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia,” Reuters reported.
This year, it was not only the COVID-19 pandemic that kept people away; there was also a war in the Tigray region, which borders Amhara where Lalibela is. Even though the government declared victory there in late 2020, there has been some low-level fighting.
Lalibela’s 12th and 13th century churches constitute a UNESCO World Heritage site, and this year’s dearth of tourists has been hard on the local economy.
Photo credit: Viator.com