The Debre Birhan Selassie Church is also known as the “Trinity and Mountain of Light”. It is one of the most important churches in all of Ethiopia.
The church is famous for its Ethiopian artwork. It was built in the 17th Century by Emperor Eyasu II, who was also known as Birhan Seged, which means “He to Whom the Light Bows” (isn’t that beautiful?). The church is said to be preserved by an archangel.
It was in 1888 that the Mahdist Dervishes from the Sudan came to Gondar and destroyed every church in Gondar, except the Debre Birhan Selassie Church. A great legend was born as to how this church was saved. It is said that as the Mahdist Dervishes approached the church, they encountered a swarm of bees which kept the soldiers at bay. To top that, the legend continues that the Archangel Michael descended and stood before the gates with a flaming sword in his hand!
The artwork inside the church is truly something to see. On the walls are biblical scenes, as well as paintings of saints. The ceiling, meanwhile is adorned with hundreds of faces of angels that look down on the faithful below.
Men and women both were inside the church while we were there, praying silently. There was a particular man who noticed the children, smiled, and waved them to come and sit with him. He seemed very pleased to see them there.