ADDIS ABABA – The body of the 4th Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), Abune Merkorios, has been laid to rest at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa.
Abune Merkorios, 84 died on 4 March after weeks of treatment for nonspecific illness.
He was laid to rest on Sunday morning afternoon. Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Abune Matias extended his benediction to the gatherings at the funeral service.
Thousands including representatives of Coptic, the Indian, the Syrian, and the Armenian Orthodox Churches, attended the funeral ceremony.
President Sahle-Work Zewde was also among the attendants of the funeral services.
The funeral took place a day after many paid tribute to the fourth patriarch of the Orthodox church during a farewell program held at Meskel Square.
“His immense contribution to his country & EOTC, his teachings on peace, reconciliation, togetherness, perseverance… will remain forever,” said President Sahle-work.
Abuna Merkorios was chosen as the fourth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox church after the death of Abuna Tekle Haymanot in May, 1988.
Three years later, he was forced to abdicate after the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which resulted in the church splitting.
The following year the church in Addis Ababa installed Patriarch Paulos as patriarch replacing the exiled Abune Merkorios.
Many objected to the move, saying the role of the patriarch was held for life. Abune continued to serve a rival synod established in the US, where he lived most of his life in exile.
He came back from his 27-year exile in 2018 after Prime Minister Abiy persuaded him to reconcile with the rival faction of the church.
After the reunification, the Orthodox church had two patriarchs – Abune Merkorios, who was responsible for the spiritual aspect of the church, and Abune Mathias who replaced Paulos following his death in 2012 was in charge of its day-to-day affairs.