Several people from Addis Ababa and the surrounding areas are flocking to Gelan Gura, a village located within one-hour walking distance from Bole Bulbula, to see a Cross.
In this case, the Cross is not one of the four fragments of the Holy Cross, also referred to as the True Cross, which is believed to have come to Ethiopia in the 14th century A.D during the reign of Emperor Dawit (David), the son of the Ethiopian philosopher Emperor Zer’a Yakob. Legends suggest that the four fragments were unearthed by Queen Helena and were originally given to Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch. One of these fragments is supposed to have arrived in Ethiopia and is believed to reside in the Church of Egziabher Ab located in the Monastery of Gishen, Amhara Regional state. People are apparently travelling to the Church of St. Gabriel’s in Gelan Gura because eyewitnesses claim that a Cross miraculously fell out of the sky.
The miracle begins
As the story goes, at about 2:40 am on Saturday, August 31 2013, worshippers seated outside the church saw a conflagration, carried by a cloud and accompanied by thunder going back and forth in the sky, according to Senay Shifere (Meri Geta). He told Capital that the people who witnessed the miracle at first thought that it was lightening, but it was not raining at that particular time, making the situation even more confusing for the people gathered around.
During that time, one of the priests inside the Church went outside through the eastern exit for some fresh air and was bathed in brilliant light. He immediately began sounding an alert by shouting “Fire! Fire!”, but apparently no one heard him because he seemed to have lost his voice, said the priest. “He then hurried back into the Church and told us that the Church’s store was on fire,” the priest said. “As soon as we heard this, we rushed out and saw the ‘fire’ and at first thought it was an electric spark caused by contact with the roof of the store, because there are electric cables in the vicinity of the store,” he continued. Shortly after, the people realized that what they were witnessing was not fire, but rather a Cross falling out of the sky.
“A deacon approached the burning Cross and tried to lift it, but fell down unconscious before reaching it. He remained unconscious for four days,” added the priest, According to sources Capital spoke to, the Cross remained outside where it stayed for four days, because all the priests and deacons of the church were afraid to approach it, let alone touch it.
After communicating with the Head Office of the Patriarchate, Abune Estifanos, Assistant to the Patriarch and Archbishop of the Jimma Hagere Sibket (Diocese), arrived at the scene for prayers on Tuesday, September 3. After the Abun gave his blessings, the Cross was finally moved and placed in the Church.
It appears that the deacon, who had collapsed when he initially approached the Cross and was in a coma, became awake only after that, according to the priest. “He eventually started speaking and is okay now,” he added. The deacon later told priests and other people in the Church that he had no recollection of what happened after he tried to approach the Cross and “a boy dressed in white” smacked him unconscious.
A couple of people Capital talked to said that they weren’t surprised by the doubts many people have about the whole affair. “Even though a lot of people are saying it is not true, there were people who rushed excitedly to touch the Cross as it was being taken in,” a young girl said. She stated that since the advent of the Cross various miracles have happened. Furthermore, Senay told visitors that a woman’s shoes were burnt because she approached the area where the Cross fell without taking off her shoes.
Desalegn Merhatsion and his friend, who work at various construction sites, came to the Church all the way from Kolfe to see the divine Cross. They found it difficult initially to find the Church because of confusing information as to its location.
Unfortunately, after arriving at the place the two friends were unable to see the Cross because of security and convenience issues. Senay said visitors are not allowed to see the Cross until safety measures are in place and until crops planted in the surrounding fields have been gathered.
Despite this, Desalegn asserted that there was no reason why miracles couldn’t happen here. “Ethiopia is a blessed country,” he said. He mentioned the existence of the legendary Ark of the Covenant in the country. The Ark, which contains the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written and given to Moses on Mount Sinai, was kept in the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem for centuries until a Babylonian invasion in the 6th century BC, according to the Old Testament.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church claims that the Ark has been here for centuries, and since the 1960s, has been kept in Aksum, in the Chapel of the Tablet, situated adjacent to the Church of St. Mary of Zion.
Gelan Gura becomes a destination of the faithful and the curious
The news of the Cross spread throughout the city and other surrounding areas and people have started flocking to the Church of St. Gabriel which was only visited by a few outsiders prior to the event, according to local residents.
Apparently, tens of thousands of Christians were present when the object in question was taken into the church and seemingly many of them saw a bright golden light emanating from the Cross, according to a Christian fellow who was at the scene on Thursday, October 3.
More than a month after the occurrence, the Cross has yet to be unveiled to the public. However, people still travel to at least see the Church and be part of a historic happening.