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The secret of Tena lake….

More than 20 monasteries, many of which are from the 14th century, are tucked away among the islands and shorelines of Lake Tana in northern Ethiopia. We leave the charming city of Bahir Dar by water and float from monastery to monastery, exploring their treasures. These monastic churches appear unassumingly modest from the outside, yet they are a riot of color inside. Their inside walls are completely adorned in vibrant murals that blend Ethiopian folklore and biblical history. The paintings are updated with fresh coats of paint as their colors deteriorate because they are not outdated museums but rather bustling places of worship. They are crowded with deacons studying and working, as well as priests praying, napping, and lounging around (some of whom seem frustrated at the isolation). The murals depict narratives. They employ techniques like portraying bad figures in profile with just one eye in an effort to educate a population that is generally illiterate. The Virgin Mary, also known as Saint Mary in Ethiopia, is a significant figure. The story of Belai the cannibal, a horrible individual who devoured everyone he encountered, including his own family, is frequently used to illustrate the mercy of St. Mary. One day, Belai encountered a leprous beggar who begged him in the name of St. Mary for some water. Belai handed the beggar some water after recalling her name from the recess of his memory. St. Peter compared Belai’s good and bad deeds in his life when he arrived at the gates of heaven. The good was clearly overwhelmed by the negative, but St. Mary lifted her hand and caused its shadow to fall on the good, tipping the scales in her favor and allowing Belai to enter heaven.

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