Patriarch Abune Paulos of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church announced in Rome his plans to reveal the Ark of the Covenant to the world.
The holy ark is described in the Bible as holding the Ten Commandants and various other ancient Hebrew holy artifacts. A little after 600 BC the Ark disappeared when Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem and looted much of the city.
However, Ethiopians claim they are the keepers of the ark. Depending on the legend, either the Ethiopian son of King Solomon, Menelik I, took the ark with him around 950 BC or Jewish priests gave the ark to Beta Israel to prevent it from falling into Babylonian hands. Regardless if true or not many Ethiopians believe they are keepers of the ark.
The claimed ark is in the city of Axum, Ethiopia in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion which dates back to the AD 300s.
The city of Axum is also a holy city to Muslims. Muhammad sent Muslims there during the first persecution because of the kindness of the Christian king. These refugees were the first Muslims to live outside the immediate Mecca-Medina core of Saudi Arabia. It is Muhammad was so impressed by Axum that he ordered his followers to forever leave Ethiopia in peace. Muslims in the town are not allowed a mosque because of the old imperial edict stating there can be no mosque in Axum as long as Mecca is churchless.
The patriarchs plan to reveal the ark is a massive break in tradition. Only men are allowed on the grounds where the ark is claimed to be and only the patriarch and one specially trained monk is allowed to actually see the ark. There have been claims that monks lifespans are short due to the divine energy that overpowers mere mortal sinners Old Testament-style. Anyone else who tries to see it allegedly dies. Much like what happened in the fictional Indiana Jones movie to the Nazis when they attempted to obtain it (yes, this last bit was necessary)
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