The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Abyssinian Church

ABYSSINIAN CHURCH. The Church founded by Frumentius, the first bishop of Ethiopia, about 330 a.d. About 470 a great company of monks established itself in the country, completely changing the doctrines and affairs of the Church, but was a few years later expelled. From 1528 to 1540, the country was overrun by Mohammedans, followed at the end of the 15th century by Portuguese Jesuit missions, which remained till 1633, when the Abyssinians resumed allegiance to the Church of Alexandria. The metropolitan (called Abuna) or head of the Church is appointed by the patriarch of Alexandria, and is always a foreigner. The Abyssinians are monophysites, generally agreeing with the Copts in ritual and practice. The fasts are long and rigid; confession and absolution are strictly enforced and the Sabbath and the Levirate law are generally observed. Graven images, purgatory, extreme unction, crucifixes, etc., are prohibited. The priests must marry, but only once. The liturgy is celebrated on the ark in the King's palace at Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and the Feast of the Cross. The Scriptures are read in Geez, the literary language, which is used for all services. Consult Dowling, ‘The Abyssinian Church’ (London 1909).