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About Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

Ethiopia, the land of Judeo-Christianity, is one of the most ancient predominantly Christian countries of the world. It is marked with a fascinating history, unique civilization, culture and religious life. The Book of Genesis recounts: “And the name of the second river is Ghion: the same is it that compasses the whole land of Ethiopia” (Geneses 2:13). The Psalmist David also says: “Let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out her hands to God” (Psalms 68:31).

The Fast of the Assumption of the Virgin Saint Mary (Dormition of the Theotokos)

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The Fast of the Assumption of the Virgin Saint Mary (Dormition of the Theotokos)

  • Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church - Menbere Berhan Kidest Mariam (St. Mary) Cathedral 84 Tycos Drive North York, ON, M6B 1V9 Canada (map)

On August 7th, the church celebrates the beginning of St. Mary’s Fast. The fast is 15 days long and precedes the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Theotokos St. Mary on August 22nd. St. Mary carried a name that has long been remembered as the Joy of Generations. It is through her enduring example of obedient faith, strong will, and spiritual purity that we come to understand why she is rejoiced of Angels. Here is a brief glimpse on St. Mary’s heavenly nature.

The very first promise concerning the Redeemer, after falling of Adam and Eve, contained a prophecy about a special Woman. God said to the devil: “I shall put enmity between thee and the Woman, and between thy seed and Her Seed” (Genesis 3:15).

The prophet Isaiah added important details to this first prophecy of Genesis. He said that the Woman, Who will give birth to the Messiah-Emmanuel, will be a virgin. “God Himself shall give you a sign,” explained the prophet Isaiah to the disbelieving descendants of King David, — “the Virgin shall accept into her womb and bear a Son, and shall name Him Emmanuel, which means: God is with us” (Isaiah 7:14).

ነሐሴ ፯ (13 August) – Annunciation of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Joachim

On this day, God sent angel Gabriel to announce to Joachim the birth of the Virgin Mary, the mother of the incarnated God. Joachim and his wife Anna (Hannah) had no children. Joachim was a direct descendant of King David but lived a very modest and simple life. Gabriel announced to him that his wife Anna would conceive and bear a child, that would delight his eyes and please his heart, and all the world would rejoice and be glad.

ግንቦት ፩ (9 May) – The birth of St. Mary

On this day the church celebrates the birth of the pure Virgin St. Mary, the Mother of God (Theotokos), through whom Salvation came to mankind. She was born in the city of Nazareth in Galilee, where her parents lived.

ጥር ፳፩ (30 January) – The Dormition of the Theotokos, St. Mary

On this day, Our Lady, the all pure, Virgin St. Mary, the Mother of God, departed. As the Holy Virgin prayed on the Mount of Olives (near Jerusalem), the Angel Gabriel appeared to her, and announced to her that in three days her earthly life would come to an end and that the Lord would take to Him. The Lord arranged it so that toward that time the Apostles congregated in Jerusalem from the many parts of the world where they were preaching. At the hour of her end, a bright light illuminated the room in which the Virgin Mary was lying. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, surrounded by Angels, appeared and received her most pure soul. The Apostles buried her holy body, according to her wish, at the foot of the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the cave where reposed the bodies of her parents and of the righteous Joseph.

ነሐሴ ፲፮ (22 August) – Commemoration of the Assumption of the Theotokos St. Mary/End of St. Mary’s Fast

On this day, was the assumption of the body of our pure Lady St. Mary, the Mother of God. After the virgin St. Mary gave up her pure spirit, the Apostles shrouded her pure body and carried it to Gethsemane.

Some of the Jews blocked their way to prevent them from burying the body. One of the Jews seized the coffin with his hands, which were separated instantly from his body and they remained attached to the coffin. He regretted his evil deed and wept bitterly. Through the supplications of the saintly apostles, his hands were reattached to his body, and he believed in the Lord Christ. When they placed the body in the tomb, the Lord hid it from them.

St. Thomas the Apostle was not present at the time of St. Mary’s departure. Three days after the burial of the Theotokos, there arrived belatedly the Apostle Thomas. He wished to see her body for the last time, a cloud carried him to Jerusalem. On his way, he saw the pure body of St. Mary carried by the angels and ascended to heaven with it. One of the angels told him, “Make haste and kiss the pure body of St. Mary,” and he did.

When St. Thomas arrived where the disciples were, they told him about St. Mary’s departure and he said to them, “You know how I conducted myself at the resurrection of the Lord Christ, and I will not believe unless I see her body.” They went with him to the tomb, and uncovered the place of the body but they did not find it, and everyone was perplexed and surprised. The Apostles returned to their home in amazement. In the evening during their prayers, they heard Angels singing. Glancing upward, the Apostles saw the Most Holy Virgin surrounded by Angels, in heavenly glory. She said to the Apostles: “Rejoice! I am with you for all the days and nights.”

St. Thomas told them how he saw the holy body and the angels that were ascending with it. They heard the Holy Spirit saying to them, “The Lord did not will to leave her body on earth.”

The Lord had promised his pure apostles to let them see her in the flesh once again. They were waiting for this promise to be fulfilled, until the 16th day of the month of Mesra, when the promise was fulfilled and they saw her. They saw her sitting on the right hand of her Son and her Lord, surrounded by the angelic Host, as David prophesied and said, “At your right hand stands the queen.” (Psalm 45:9)

The years of her life on earth were 60 years. She was 12 years old when she left the temple. She spent 34 years in Joseph’s house, until the Ascension of the Lord, and 14 years with St. John the Evangelist, according to the commandment of the Lord which he told her at the cross.

“O Virgin Mary, Mother of God, holy and faithful advocate of the human race, intercede for us with Christ whom you mothered, that He may grant us forgiveness of sins.”

Earlier Event: June 19
Annual Feast of Archangel Michael
Later Event: August 19
The Feast of Transfiguration