Tewahido History


The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church is one of the most unique and the only Church that is founded upon the foundation of the Old Testament or Judaism. It is an ancient Church, based on the teachings of our Lord, the Savior, the Prophets and the Apostles. Ethiopia received Christianity directly from Apostles in the first century. According to tradition, St. Matthews and St. Mark also evangelized in Ethiopia, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, with her Son Jesus Christ, went as far as Ethiopia during Her exile. 


In spite of the fact that worship of one True God has always been the basis of the Ethiopian religious practices for a long time, it was at the time of the Queen of Sheba that significant steps were taken to strengthen the belief. Having heard much about King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba journeyed to the King's Palace in Jerusalem to see for herself if all that she heard about him was fact. This journey was also intended to introduce Ethiopian civilization to the Israelites. As a result of the ensuing relationship between King Solomon and Queen Sheba, it has been possible to introduce the teachings and belief of the Old Testament to Ethiopia. It was also at this time that the Ark of Covenant was brought to our Country. From that time onwards, the Old Testament became the basis of the religious belief, practice and teachings of the Ethiopian people and Ethiopia became the seat of the Ark of the Covenant (1Kgs. 10:1-9)


Because of these historical, cultural and religious relationships with Jerusalem, Ethiopians used to undertake long and extremely difficult pilgrimages to the Holy Land, crossing the deserts on foot and animal back. As a consequence of these pilgrimages, Ethiopia is the proud owner of places of worship in the City of David (Jerusalem). This ownership of centers of worship in Jerusalem is a symbol of honor and pride not only for Ethiopians, but also for all peoples of color. This Historical and religious relationship also opened the way to Christianity in Ethiopia. The Holy Bible tells us that an Ethiopian eunuch who happened to be in Jerusalem for the purpose of worshipping in the 1st century A.D. brought Christianity to Ethiopia (Acts. 8:26-39).


The establishment of the Bishopric and the administration of all the Sacraments were started in the 4th century A.D. when Frumentius was appointed by the Patriarch of Alexandria (Athanasius) as the first bishop of Ethiopia. This marked the beginning of the religious relations between Alexandria and Ethiopia.


Basic to the teaching of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) is faith. The church believes that it is impossible to please the Lord without faith. It teaches its followers that the Kingdom of God shall be inherited by faith and good deeds. Through the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the decisions taken by Holy Fathers assembled in the various Councils of the Church, including the Councils of Nicea (325 AD), Constantinople (381 AD.) and Epheson (431 AD) are also foundations for the teachings of our Church.


Throughout the ages, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church (EOTC) has been the symbol of our Country's unity and our existence as a Nation; most notably in the northern highlands that constitute the historic core of Ethiopia. Our culture, our civilization, our thoughts and modes of life have been built upon the foundations of our Church. The secular rulers of Ethiopia not only have been members of the Church, but have supported it financially. It has been our religious unit that has kept our political unity, which in turn has made our continued independence for centuries possible. Our Church has played an active part in the development, diffusion and preservation of an indigenous education, literature, and art. The ancient monasteries that are found all over the Ethiopian highlands have been the centers of ecclesiastical learning.