The Ethiopian Church is a charming island of tranquility 10 minutes walk north of Jaffa Road in busy downtown Jerusalem, and a living remnant of biblical faith and lore.
The lion over its gate is the symbol of this community, which teaches that Ethiopian Christians descended from the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, who gave her a banner depicting a Lion of Judah when she visited Jerusalem (1 Kings 10:1-10).
The church was built in 1893 by the Ethiopian emperor Johannes I. He wanted his people to have a presence in modern Jerusalem in addition to their church near the Holy Sepulchre. Visitors remove their shoes before entering the church, surrounded by its shady garden. The altar is at its heart, to be seen but not touched as you walk around the domed structure, taking in the hanging lamps and paintings, and watching the community at prayer at the appointed hours.