Pilgrimage to Lalibela: Stepping back 1000 years

lalibela-20150106-104-_DSC0243 Northern Ethiopia has been a stronghold for the Christian faith since 330AD - nearly 1700 years of faithful practice and tradition. One of the highlights of Ethiopia’s year is the annual Christmas celebration in Lalibela. Built in the 12th century as an alternate pilgrimage site to Jerusalem, Lalibela centers around 11 stone churches that have been hewn directly out of the living rock.

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Far from being a historical relic, Lalibela is still an active pilgrimage destination and every Christmas tens of thousands of the faithful make the trip. In scenes that could come straight out of the bible, worshipers hold midnight vigils around cave churches while priests sing and chant to 5th century rhythms.

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These photographs are a glimpse of an extraordinary journey I got to take with my father. For 2 weeks, we were pilgrims too: visiting and praying in ancient churches; taking a journey together; talking a lot about our shared Christian faith.

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Of all of the photographs, this last one is the most meaningful. It is of my dad and I having Christmas Eve lunch in a friend’s house. Times like this reminded me that not only is this man my dad, he is, always has been, and always will be, my hero.

If you ever want to make this adventure yourself, I’d recommend going with Grand Holidays (www.grandholidaysethiopia.com). Yohanes, Alex, Des and folks were just fantastic.