One day a woman said to the Catholicos: "You Copts place too much emphasis on Mary. She is a woman like any other. " To which the Catholicos replied, "Very well, then give us another Christ." [1]

This phrase sums up the Marian culture in Ethiopia. Let’s take a closer, respectful look.

Saint Frumentius (4th century) called the first church built in Aksum, the capital of the kingdom, "Edda Mariam," Abode of Mary.

Mary is venerated under the title of Waladita Amlak, the one who bore God.

“Mary” appears in many Ethiopian names, a testimony of the faithful’s trust in Mary:

 Ghebie Mariam, Servant of Mary; Haile-Mariam, the strength of Mary; Laoké Mariam, Message from Mary; Teklé Mariam, Plant or offspring of Mary; Hapté Mariam, Gift of Mary; Walda-maryam, Son of Mary; Newaia-Maryam, Mary's treasure; Kafla-Maryam, portion of Mary; Kidana-Maryam, promise of Mary; Baeda-Maryam, protected by Mary, etc.

Certain that the prayer of Mary to her Son can only be answered, the Ethiopians consider their country as the fief of Mary, placed under her protection.

Many beautiful rock-hewn churches are dedicated to Mary. They are decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from the apocryphal stories.


[1] Attilio GALLI, Madre della Chiesa dei Cinque Continenti, Ed. Segno, Udine, 1997, p.685