While watching the scenes of the martyrdom of the Ethiopian youths in Libya, one recalled the 21 Egyptian young men who earned the crown of martyrdom when slaughtered in Libya from a short time. It is unforgettable event in the memory of history. From long ages, the Nile, our lifeline, connected between Egypt and Ethiopia. Ethiopian and Egyptian churches were too closely related over long ages. Now, they are closer sharing strong blood ties, blood of martyrs.
The ancient Nile has two major tributaries, the White Nile rises in the Great Lakes region and the Blue Nile that begins at the Ethiopian Highlands. The two rivers meet just north of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
Victoria Lake is the major tributary of the White Nile and the Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana that is situated at Ethiopian Highlands, East of Africa. River Atbara also begins at the Ethiopian Highlands, northern of Lake Tana; it also carries water to the Nile. Thus, since old ages, history scribed its events on the walls of time, the Egyptian and Ethiopian people were connected with one river, a lifeline that sings hymns of life to the two countries.
The Ethiopian and Egyptian churches were also connected historically. This connection began in 329 A.D at the age of St. Athanasius the Apostolic, the 20th pope of Alexandria. The Ethiopian Church honors St. Athanasius as he ordained its first bishop, Saint Frumentius, whom the Ethiopians called Abba Salama (Father of Peace).Since then he was called the Archbishop of Ethiopian church till the time of H.H Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria who ordained him as a Catholicos in the name of Pope Basilios. The relationship between the Ethiopian and Egyptian churches was always bonded with love and friendship and this was clear in the strong relationship between Pope Cyril VI and the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie.
There are also the blood ties and bonds of martyrdom as the Coptic Church has been always characterized by martyrdom and she presented thousands of her sons as martyrs. Since the two churches presented their sons as new martyrs, they were connected by blood ties.
Martyrdom is not the end; it is the beginning of an endless life. Martyrs realized that, thus they loftily disdained this valueless life in an endless peace and wondrous steadfastness concentrating on the heavenly matters and always remembering that we are strangers on this earth and will eventually return to our heavenly adobe; thus they were able to keep their faith. They realized that in Heaven there is a pure joy and great comfort as It the place where tiredness, illness, sadness and distress go away. They discovered that shortness of this current life is met by the endless and eternal peace of heaven. They didn’t run away from responsibilities of life, they toiled and struggled, but they preferred leaving it for the sake of their faith. So, blessed are the Ethiopian martyrs for gaining a place at the Heavenly Homeland. Our connection has become stronger for our peoples’ bloodshed that played the Hymn of Eternity.!
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center