My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Ethiopia - a pilgrimage - in Addis Ababa Holy Trinity Cathedral

Interior of the Cathedral
From the National Museum in Addis Ababa we moved on to the Trinity (Selassie) Cathedral, where Emperor Haile Selassie is buried, along with his wife Menen, in enormous granite tombs. They were moved here in November 2000, back to the cathedral which he founded in 1931, to commemorate liberation from Italian occupation. The great and colourful reburial ceremony and procession, a full 25 years after the Emperor's death, was attended by a large Rastafarian community which included Bob Marley's wife Rita. 
Exterior of the Cathedral

Moses and his tablets of stone with Ge'ez numbers
just one of many very beautiful windows
After removing our shoes outside (something we have to do throughout the country when visiting any of its churches and monasteries - along with respecting the demarcation of males keeping to the left, females to the right of each church), we enter the cathedral, suffused with the heady scent of incense. I certainly feel at home here! We were immediately struck by the most beautiful stained glass windows illustrating Ethiopian interpretations of the New Testament and Old Testament stories - to the right and left hand side of the cathedral respectively. The stained glass window of Moses with the tablets brought down from Mount Sinai uses the numbers of the Ge'ez language, the language unique to Ethiopian Orthodoxy and used in its liturgy and other spoken or chanted texts. The windows are truly beautiful and each one merits detailed examination. 

Holy of Holies containing Ark of Covenant

detail of cathedral exterior
The cathedral also has the most beautiful wall and ceiling paintings and uniquely, it actually displays its copy of the Ark of the Covenant - usually hidden from public gaze behind the curtains shielding the Holy of Holies Sanctuary in other churches. But what struck me most was the devotion of the local populace - mothers bringing their young children into the building after school to pray and display their faith very publicly. A little girl in her blue school uniform was prostrated before the Ark of the Covenant, and there was a constant stream of people coming in to venerate, to pray, to sit…
Sylvia Pankhurst grave

the granite tomb of Haile selassie

Outside the cathedral we find the grave for Sylvia Pankhurst, the famous UK suffragette and an active supporter of Ethiopian culture and independence since the Italian invasion in 1935, friend of Haile Selassie and whose son Richard still lives here.


  1. I really enjoyed the pilgrimage to Ethiopia - beautiful country, lovely people - and the rock hewn churches were amazing.