type: CAVE CHURCH
HEWN INTO A
abune yemata guh
this cave church in the guh region is situated near the asterisk. our crew consists of the car driver, our permanent guide and an assistant, needed to assist us during the climb up.
we shall walk up to the foot of this intimidating rock configuration. from there we will have to climb 1/4 of the height of the highest pinnacle rock. the assistant guide will prove to be indispensable.
two guides are advising us all the way up, where to put our hands and feet in the holes and on the irregularities in the rock face. after a few minutes my hart rythme slowed down to almost normal. I was convinced that there was no danger at all if only I followed the instructions of our safety guards carefully.
only a few meters seperate us from the entrance of the church between the turbaned priest and the boy. to get there we had to put both hands on the stone ledge over the white painted rock face to cross the wooden ‘bridge’ the boy is sitting on. he advised us not to look down to avoid fear of heights. I looked down automatically, he was right!
from the inside of the church you see the opposite rock face through the entrance.
it is evident that one faux pas on the narrow ledge will be the prelude to your last journey.
the crew is already seated inside, relieved and happy that none of their guests had any difficulty during the climb up.
the first view inside filled me with emotion. after the efforts and tension on the way up I had not expected this colourfull beauty in such a remote and deserted location.
the protagonist on horseback in the centre is the patron abuna aregawi. one of the nine that christianized the countrry. his eight fellow saints are hovering above him in a cupola.
in this shallow cupola the eight other syrian saints are dispositioned in such a way that there is evidently one of the nine missing. missing may be the wrong word. from the cupola they are all looking down on abune aregawi on horseback.
in a second cupola there are nine men depicted. here too there is an empty space. as these men are apostles, we must conclude that here three of them are missing. but why only nine apostles?
comparing the two cuppolas the question may arise whether the men are wearing turbans or having haloes. well, the apostles show their hairdo so they are haloed. consequently the syrians are turbaned.
why only nine apostles? there just was not enough room in the cupola for these other three, perhaps the most important or best known. their names are painted to the right of their heads: saint peter, saint paul and unbelieving thomas.
this massive pillar has a bracket capital that normally supports the ceiling. but in a cave church the massiveness of the rock replaces the ceiling. the ceiling is a pseudo, supported by a pseudo capital on a pseudo pillar.
the madonna has jesus on her left knee. she is as always dressed in blue, her veil hiding her nimbus. the nimbus of her baby jesus shows the symbol of the cross that he was nailed on 33 years later.
outside in front of the church take a deep breath before starting the descent, may be even more exciting than going up.
I only recognize my right hand in this bunch of people. with each a personal guide it feels utmost comforting.
after this exciting and unforgettable visit high up, it is not an unpleasant feeling
having horizontal ground under your feet in the plain of hawzen on a market day.