Photographed on assignment for an upcoming story for National Geographic Magazine.
Ethiopians on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, on Thursday before Easter. At present, the most serious discord in the Holy Sepulchre is between the Ethiopians and their long-time antagonists, the Copts of Egypt. Though the two ancient African churches share a similar dogma, for the last three centuries they have been feuding over the Chapel of St. Michael leading from the parvis (the entrance courtyard) to the roof of the basilica. Initially the Ethiopians controlled the modest chapel, measuring about eight by 11 metres. Unable to pay their Ottoman taxes, the Ethiopians sold the shrine to the Copts in the 17th century. But unwilling to abandon their claim, the Ethiopians built a tiny village atop the church in a space which may have ben a Crusader-era dining room. The monastery (which in their faith includes men and women) is called the House of Sultan Suleiman in honour of the marriage of King Solomon to the Queen of Sheba, a union which they believe led to the founding of their nation 3,000 years ago. Although the Ethiopian monks have lived there for more than 200 years, the Copts are in overall control of the monastery. The Ethiopians represent the first Christian country in Africa. This Church, with its Alexandrian origins, is distinguished by its having preserved Old Testament customs such as circumcision and the Levitical laws governing food and ritual purity, and celebrations in the ancient Ge’ez language. At Easter many Ethiopian men and women come to Jerusalem, cloaked in white stoles.
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