Abune Merkorios will be laid to rest in the Capital Addis Ababa on Sunday
Ethiopians on Saturday gathered at Meskel Square in the capital Addis Ababa to bid farewell to the Fourth Patriarch of Ethiopia his Holiness Abune Merkorios.
Grieving followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Abune Mathias and many other archbishops of the Ethiopian Church, religious leaders from other faith groups and government officials including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and members of the diplomatic community attended the ceremony.
His Holiness Abune Merkorios died on March 3 in the capital Addis Ababa after a brief illness.
Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church have been mourning his death for over a week now. Stories of his life have been featured on Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
His Holiness Abune Merkorios was forced to exile in 1993 due to pressure from the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government which led to the split of the Ethiopian Orthodox Holy Synod into two.
He spent about five years in Kenya and then immigrated to the United States where he, along with other exiled members of the Holy Synod, stayed for over two decades.
During his stay in the United States, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church managed to expand across North America and Europe establishing many more churches.
In 2018, the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church reunited again after a sustained effort by church fathers – a process that got support from Abiy Ahmed who was at the time elected as Prime Minister, by his party, following the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne.
On August 1, 2018 ( Hamle 25, 2010 Ethiopian Calendar), the commemoration day of the Martyr Saint Mercurius after whose name Abune Merkorios was ordained as Archbishop and later Patriarch, he arrived in Ethiopia to a very colourful national celebration. He also passed away on the same day of Saint Mercurius commemoration day. And it is taken , among church fathers, as a sign of his devotion and deep connection with God.
When he returned to Ethiopia, Tamrat Layne, who served as Prime Minister when Meles Zenawi was a president during “transitional government,” showed up to ask Abune Merkorios forgiveness for the decision he made with an order from Zenawi to force him to resign from his Patriarchate and go to exile. According to EOTC fathers who happened to be at the scene, Abune Merkorios smiled at Tamrat Layne and told him ” You have not done anything wrong to me, my son.”
His Holiness Abune Merkorios spent the last decade or so of his life in silence, not out of an inability to speak but out of not wanting to speak.
When members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and others continue to murmur why he is not speaking about various issues affecting the church and the country, he spoke officially in 2014 only one time. “You say that I am not talking but I am always talking to God who listens to me. I am praying” that was his last official speech. And then he went into complete silence – the Ethiopian church calls the practice – Armemo.
Archbishops who were close to him during his exile in the United States say that he had the same meal and only once a day for more than twenty years. He
The farewell ceremony at Meskel Square attracted tens of thousands of faithful followers.
During the ceremony, His Holiness Abune Mathias, the sixth patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, said “it is in our tradition to send with dignity those for whom we are indebted.”
He added, “Although our father has departed us in body, his soul will live for eternity….” His message for the crowd at Meskel Square was ” we have to work to ask God to give us peace, love and avoid the challenge [the country is facing.”
His Holiness Abune Merkorios will be laid to rest on Sunday at Kiddits Selassie Menbere Tsebaot Church. He was 84 years of age.
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