Saturday, 1 October 2011

Ordinations in the Ethiopian Church

An account of ordinations in the old Abyssinian Church from The Lesser Eastern Churches by Adrian Fortescue.

"The priests are even more illiterate than those of Egypt. They are ordained in great numbers without any kind of training. Lobo's account of an ordination in the 16th century is interesting. He quotes from Fr. Alvarez, of the Portuguese mission. Abuna [the head of the Abyssinian Church] rode up on a mule and made a speech in Arabic, to the effect that if, among those to be ordained, anyone were present who had been twice married, he must withdraw, under pain of excommunication. Hereupon he got off his mule and sat by a white tent specially prepared for him. Alvarez says that 2356 men were waiting to be ordained. [Note: Apparently some are stark naked.] Meanwhile some priests arranged these in rows, and examined them by giving to each a book to read. They touched those whom they approved on the arm and made them step forward. After this examination Abuna went into the tent, and the candidates were admitted, one by one, before him. Abuna laid his hand on each one's head, said several prayers, and blessed him repeatedly with his little bronze cross. Then followed the liturgy, at which the newly ordained priests received Communion from Abuna."