Abune Matthias.jpg

One head of Church leaves his ministry, another picks up a new call to serve God’s people on the same day. Abune Mathias, 71, was elected to lead Ethiopia’s 50 million Orthodox Christians, majority of the population. He is the sixth patriarch having received 500 of the 806 possible votes. His predecessor, Abune Paulos, was the head of the church since 1992 and died six months ago.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has had its own patriarch since 1959 when Pope Cyril VI allowed for the Ethiopian Church to move from the Coptic Orthodox Church and be self-ruling. The Ethiopian Church has apostolic origins.

The new patriarch was ordained to the Order of Deacon in 1948, and a priest-monk in 1955. Since 1971 a bishop. Abune Mathias has been serving as archbishop of the Church in Jerusalem and has lived outside of Ethiopia for more than 30 years.

Abune Mathias will be enthroned in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Addis Ababa, on Sunday, 3 March.

Ethiopia has some of the word’s oldest churches, sometimes called “cave churches,” rock-hewn, which are a World Heritage Site, in Lalibella in northern Ethiopia. They’d remind of Raiders of the Lost Ark.