Lalibela (ላሊበላ) is history and mystery frozen in stone, its soul alive with the rites and awe of Christianity at its most ancient and unbending. No matter what you’ve heard about Lalibela, no matter how many pictures you’ve seen of its breathtaking rock-hewn churches, nothing can prepare you for the reality of seeing it for yourself. It’s not only a World Heritage site, but truly a world wonder. Spending a night vigil here during one of the big religious festivals, when white-robed pilgrims in their hundreds crowd the courtyards of the churches, is to witness Christianity in its most raw and powerful form.
Rock-Cut Churches of Lalibela
The small town of Lalibela in Ethiopia is home to one of the world's most astounding sacred sites: eleven rock-hewn churches, each carved entirely out of a single block of granite with its roof at ground level. Were it not for these extraordinary churches, Lalibela would almost certainly be well off the tourist radar. A dusty rural town nestled into rolling countryside, Lalibela only recently received electricity. It has few motorized vehicles, no gas stations and no paved streets. Isolated from the modern world, the town goes about its business much as it has for several hundred years. Of Lalibela's 8-10,000 people, over 1,000 are priests. Religious ritual is central to the life of the town, with regular processions, extensive fasts, crowds of singing and dancing priests. This, combined with its extraordinary religious architecture and simplicity of life, gives the city of Lalibela a distinctively timeless, almost biblical atmosphere.advertisement
History of the Rock-Cut Churches of Lalibela
The town of Lalibela was originally known as Roha. It was renamed after the 12th-century King Lalibela, who commissioned these extraordinary churches. Lalibela was a member of the Zagwe dynasty, which had seized the Ethiopian throne around 1000 AD. When his rivals began to increase in power, Lalibela sought the support of the powerful Ethiopian Orthodox Church by building the churches in this small town. King Lalibela's goal was to create a New Jerusalem for those who could not make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (and to create a sacred city to rival powerful Axum, with its Ark of the Covenant). According to some reports, he had been to the Holy Land himself and was inspired by what he saw. But the king made no attempt to copy the churches of the Holy Land; in fact, Lalibela's sacred architecture could not be more unique. The churches of Lalibela were not constructed — they were excavated. Each church was created by first carving out a wide trench on all four sides of the rock, then painstakingly chiseling out the interior. The largest church is 40 feet high, and the labor required to complete such a task with only hammers and chisels is astounding.
Popular legend has it that angels came every night to pick up where the workmen had left off. One of the churches, Bet Maryam, contains a stone pillar on which King Lalibela wrote the secrets of the buildings' construction. It is covered with old cloths and only the priests may look on it. King Lalibela's project for gaining the church's favor had two unexpected results: the creation of a holy place of unparalleled beauty and the king's conversion to a religious life. After laboring for 20 years, he abdicated his throne to become a hermit, living in a cave and eating only roots and vegetables. To this day, Ethiopian Christians regard King Lalibela as one of their greatest saints. The churches have been in continuous use since they were built in the 12th century. The first Europeans to see these extraordinary holy sites were Portugese explorers in the 1520s, one of whom noted in his journal that the sights were so fantastic, he expected readers of his descriptions would accuse him of lying.
What to See at the Rock-Cut Churches of Lalibela
The roofs of the Lalibela churches are level with the ground and are reached by stairs descending into narrow trenches. The churches are connected by tunnels and walkways and stretch across sheer drops. The interior pillars of the churches have been worn smooth by the hands of supplicating worshippers. The rock-cut churches are simply but beautifully carved with such features as fragile-looking windows, moldings of various shapes and sizes, different forms of crosses, swastikas (an Eastern religious motif) and even Islamic traceries. Several churches also have wall paintings. Each church has its own resident monk who appears in the doorway in colorful brocade robes. Holding one of the church's elaborate processional crosses, usually made of silver, and sometimes a prayer staff, these monks are quite happy to pose for pictures. Some sport incongruously modern sunglasses with their splendid ensemble.
There are 11 rock-cut churches at Lalibela, the most spectacular of which is Bet Giorgis (St. George's). Located on the western side of the cluster of churches, it is cut 40 feet down and its roof forms the shape of a Greek cross. It was built after Lalibela's death (c.1220) by his widow as a memorial to the saint-king. It is a magnificent culmination of Lalibela's plans to build a New Jerusalem, with its perfect dimensions and geometrical precision. Unlike some of the other churches, St. George's is plain inside. A curtain shields the Holy of Holies, and in front of it usually stands a priest displaying books and paintings to visitors. In the shadows of one fo the arms of the cruciform church is its tabot, or copy of the Ark of the Covenant. One explorer was allowed to open it and found it empty. No one was able to tell him what happened to its contents.  In the "Northern Group" across the main road from St. George, the most notable church is Beta Medhane Alem, home to the Lalibela Cross and believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world. It is thought to be a copy of St. Mary of Zion in Axum. Bete Medhane Alem is linked by walkways and tunnels to Beta Maryam (St. Mary's), possibly the oldest of the churches. In the east wall of the church is an array of geometric carved windows in a vertical line. From the bottom up is: a Maltese cross in a square; a semi-circle shape like that on the Axum stelae; a Latin cross; and a simple square window.
The windows illuminate the Holy of Holies in which the church's copy of the Ark is placed. Other decorations include a Star of David combined with a Maltese cross, a Sun with a smiling human face flanked by eight-spoked wheels, Mary on a donkey accompanied by Joseph, and an Annunciation. Next to Beta Maryam is Beta Golgotha, known for its artwork which includes life-sized carvings of saints on the walls. It is also home to the tomb of King Lalibela, over which stands a gold-draped Ark. The Western group is completed by the Selassie Chapel and the Tomb of Adam.
The "Eastern Group" includes: Farther afield lie the monastery of Ashetan Maryam and Yimrehane Kristos church (possibly from the 11th centur
verything You Need to Know About Visiting Lalibela, Ethiopia
Most famous as the centre of Ethiopia’s rock-hewn churches, Lalibela is a town soaked in magic and mysticism. A small, rural village, an unassuming place set amidst a stunning highland landscape, Lalibela is home to some of the finest UNESCO rock-hewn churches in the world. In true Ethiopian form, these churches sit alongside a unique, ancient, fascinating and untainted culture. With no gift shops, no souvenir touts, no staged cultural shows, Lalibela is refreshingly real. Dry, dusty and full of donkeys, complete with some incredibly elevated views, this is a living breathing African town that leaves you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. To put it simply, Lalibela is breathtaking.
The first place I visited in Ethiopia after Addis Ababa, Lalibela left me spellbound and set the tone perfectly for my unfolding love affair with this country. I remember gushing on Instagram about my experiences as I struggled to believe the reality of this rich and enchanting place I was witnessing. So if you’re heading to Ethiopia, it goes without saying Lalibela has to be on your itinerary. Here’s everything you need to know…
The best time of year to visit Lalibela, infact to visit Ethiopia as a whole, is during the dry season of October to March. Within those months, I highly recommend visiting Lalibela at the weekend. On Saturday there’s a great local market to experience here and Sunday is the time to visit the rock-hewn churches, when white-robbed locals descend in their hundreds for a dawn mass service that puts a whole new level of understanding onto the otherwise usually empty stone church structures. To see the churches really packed, you need to visit during Ethiopian Christmas, which takes place in this country in January. This is when thousands of pilgrims flock to Lalibela for the major religious ceremony of the year and while prices rocket at this time and the town is packed, it’s a spectacle worth the crowds.
During the dry season you can expect stunning clear, blue skies in Lalibela and warm temperatures around 27 degrees C. Situated at elevation however, the evenings can be chilly here as the wind picks up and the temperatures drop to around 10 degrees C. As such, bring a jumper and a warm hat!
You’re likely to be accessing Lalibela from either the capital, Addis Ababa, or north from Makele. From both Makele and Addis you can fly direct to Lalibela for around $80 USD – bookable online or in any Ethiopian Airline office.
Addis buses are considered poor man’s transport. They’re cheap but slow, run less regularly than the minibuses and are notoriously targeted by pickpockets. The minibuses are a much better bet.
Parking isn’t usually too much of a problem in Addis Ababa. Most of the larger hotels and restaurants have guarded parking spaces and don’t usually mind you leaving your car there. In other places, it’s worth paying for a guard. Whenever you park on the street a ‘parking warden’ (we’re not sure how genuine they are) appears and leaves a little note on your windscreen noting the time of arrival and they then charge you based on that (per hour Birr1 to Birr2).There are plenty of petrol stations scattered around town, including one on Angola St, near the French embassy.
Addis Ababa is served by an extensive network of little blue-and-white minibuses, which are fast, efficient, cheap and a great way of getting around. Minibuses operate from 5.30am to around 9pm (till 8pm Sunday). Journeys cost roughly Birr2 (though exact prices depend on the distance). Minibus stops can be found near almost every major intersection. Major ones include Arat Kilo, De Gaulle Sq in Piazza, Meskal Sq, Ras Mekonen Ave near La Gare and in front of the main post office on Churchill Ave. To catch the right minibus, listen to the destinations screamed by the woyala (attendants) hanging out the windows. ‘Bole!’, ‘Piazza!’ and ‘Arat Kilo!’ are the most useful to travellers. If confused, ask and someone will point you in the right direction.
The small town of Lalibela in Ethiopia is most famous for its monolithic rock-cut churches. It is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities and a center of pilgrimage. Lalibela is located in the Semien Wollo Zone of the Amhara region and is the main town in Lasta Woreda. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. This rural town is known around the world for its churches. Photo Credit The current town of Lalibela was known as Roha during the reign of Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, who ruled Ethiopia in the late 12th and early 13th century. Lalibela wanted to build a new Jerusalem as his capital in response to the capture of old Jerusalem by the Arabs in 1187. The many churches in the city were unique, carved from a single piece of rock to symbolize spirituality and humility. The churches are unique because they were not constructed, they were excavated.Unesco identifies 11 churches, assembled in four groups. Photo Credit There are 11 churches identified by UNESCO that were built under the reign of Lalibela during the 12th and 13th centuries. There are four groups of churches: The Northern Group, the Western group, the Eastern group and the monastery of Ashetan Maryam and Yimrehane Kristos Church.
Bete Abba Libanos church. Photo Credit Bete Medhane Alem church. Photo Credit The first Europeans to see these magnificent holy sites were the Portuguese explorer Pero da Covilha and the Portuguese priest Francisco Alvares, who noted in his journal that the sights were so unique that no one would believe his descriptions. According to Sacred Destinations, the churches have been in continuous use since they were built in the 12th century. Bete Maryam church. Photo Credit However, there is some controversy as to when some of the churches were constructed. David Buxton has argued that since the time spent to carve these structures from the living rock must have taken longer than the few decades of Lalibela’s reign, the work probably extended into the 14th century. On the other hand, according to David Phillipson, the churches of Gabriel-Rufael, Merkorios, and Danagel were initially carved out of the rock half a millennium earlier during the Axumite Kingdom. Lalibela’s name simply came to be associated with them after his death. Bete Giyorgis (Church of Saint George). Photo Credit The church was carved from a type of volcanic tuff. Photo Credit Here is another story from us:Abandoned: The Largest Medieval palace in Scotland The most spectacular of the 11 churches is Biete Giyorgis, or The Church of St. George, carved from a type of volcanic tuff. It is the best known and youngest of the 11 churches in the Lalibela area and has been referred as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. The church is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site – “Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela”.
Gingerbread house was first brought to America by German settlers and became an American tradition
Gingerbread houses remain a favorite holiday tradition for children, families and bakers alike. Gingerbread Houses are made in the US and many other countries in the world, but the first Gingerbread cookies originated in Germany during the 16th century where they were popularly called “Lebkuchen”. Gingerbread houses popularity rose when the Brothers Grimm wrote the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel back in 1812, in which two children, Hansel and Gretel get lost in the woods and stumble upon a house made entirely of gingerbread covered in frosting and candy. They were caught and captured by the witch who lived in the house but managed to escape in the end. Painting depicting gingerbread sold at the fair The publishing of this fairy tale popularized the idea and the tale brought gingerbread and the tradition of making gingerbread houses to the United States. In the book Grimm’s Fairy Stories you can read the story of Hansel and Gretel. A full-scale gingerbread house as a Christmas decoration in Stockholm, 2009. Photo Credit Gingerbread has been around for thousands of years, since the times of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. It was brought to western Europe from the eastern Mediterranean during the Crusades in the 11th century. According to the Smithsonian, “Gingerbread was a favorite treat at festivals and fairs in medieval Europe – often shaped and decorated to look like flowers, birds, animals or even armor – and several cities in France and England hosted regular “gingerbread fairs” for centuries. Ladies often gave their favorite knights a piece of gingerbread for good luck in a tournament, or superstitiously ate a “gingerbread husband” to improve their chances of “landing the real thing”.
Gingerbread shops in Strasbourg. Ginger cakes became so popular treats at fairs, that the fairs in Europe were often called “gingerbread fairs”. The practice of shaping gingerbread quickly spread throughout Scandinavia, Northern Europe, and Great Britain. Gingerbread house with steps and trees. Photo Credit Queen Elizabeth 1st had gingerbread figures made in the likeness of some of her important guests. Gingerbread was also used to make commemorative cakes for historic events. Decorating the gingerbread house became a holiday tradition and the English are credited with starting the tradition of painting gingerbread and displaying it on shop windows. English colonists brought Gingerbread to the New World. The tradition of baking gingerbread in the United States dates back for over 200 years. One of the most popular gingerbread recipes was written by Mary Ball Washington, George Washington’s mother. However, Gingerbread house was first brought to America by German settlers and since then has become an American tradition. Gingerbread houses are built traditionally before Christmas using pieces of baked gingerbread dough assembled with melted sugar. With gingerbread’s long history of being used as a decorative edible substance, gingerbread house-making quickly became an art.
A gingerbread house with lighting. Here is another Christmas story from us: The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is an iconic symbol of the holiday season The practice seems to become more and more popular each year. In 2013 the largest gingerbread house in the world was made in Bryan, Texas, USA, with a 2,520-square-foot.
The sad story of Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles California. Her mother, Gladys worked at Consolidated Film Industries where she met salesman Charles Stanley Gifford who left Gladys when she fell pregnant.
Gladys had severe bouts with mental illness and was unable to care for Norma, so she was placed with foster parents. She spent her childhood in and out of foster homes and state-run care until the age of sixteen when she married James Dougherty, a friend of hers that lived a few houses away. Dougherty joined the military and Norma went to work at a defence plant as well as working as a model. In 1945 she signed with the Blue Book Model Agency, dyed her hair blonde and began appearing in magazine ads and covers. Norma was an avid reader and spent quite a bit of her modeling salary on books. She also took literature courses and an acting course at the Actors Lab in Hollywood. When she met Ben Lyon, an executive at 20th Century Fox, he convinced Darryl F. Zanuck to sign her to a six-month contract. It was at this time Lyon changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. She had a bit part as a waitress in the movie Dangerous Years in 1947. Zanuck was not particularly impressed with Monroe and let her contract lapse a year later. By this time she had divorced Dougherty and decided to pursue acting full time. In 1948 she was signed by Columbia Pictures and appeared in several minor pictures such as Ladies of the Chorus in 1948, A Ticket to Tomahawk, All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle in 1950 and Niagara in 1953. It was her performances in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire in 1953 that made Monroe a star. In 1954 she married baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. The marriage lasted less than a year because DiMaggio wanted a full-time wife and Marilyn wanted to continue to act. He also had a hard time dealing with Marilyn’s sex symbol image and attention from men.
In 1955 she appeared with Tom Ewell in Billy Wilder’s comedy The Seven Year Itch where the iconic photo of Marilyn standing over a sidewalk grate blowing up her skirt was created. By this time Marilyn was tired of the dumb blonde roles, she was continually being handed and yearned for more dramatic roles. She moved to New York and enrolled in the New York’s Actors Studio studying under the director, Lee Strasberg. She also began psychotherapy, urged on by Strasberg. Strasberg was one of the movie industry’s elite. He coached such actors as Marlon Brando, James Dean, Anne Bancroft, Shelley Winters, Sidney Poitier and Joanne Woodward in the “Method Acting” technique. Monroe became very attached to Strasberg, and in a sense, he became the father she never had. In 1956 Marilyn was back in Hollywood to work in Josh Logan’s Bus Stop. She ran into playwright Arthur Miller who she had met years earlier at a party. Miller embodied everything Marilyn wanted in life. He was a serious thinker, well educated and a highly respected writer. She was introduced to his social circle of literary greats such as Truman Capote, Carl Sandburg and Saul Bellow. Marilyn was intelligent and witty and fit right in with Miller’s friends. She converted to Miller’s religion of Judaism and married him in June of 1956 with Lee Strasberg giving her away at a small wedding. The newlyweds moved into an apartment on East 57th Street in New York City and frequently vacationed on Long Island. Monroe had reported that the time spent with Miller in 1957 were the best of her life. She was truly in love; she was being given serious acting roles and believed that she had finally found the happiness that had eluded her since childhood. When she and Miller moved to London so she could work on The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier, things began to unravel. Miller had left his diary open, and Marilyn saw an entry where he had written that their marriage was a disappointment and that she had frequently embarrassed him in front of his friends because she was not as smart as he would have liked. Marilyn was devastated, but continued to work to keep the marriage together. She returned to psychoanalysis and began relying on barbiturates and alcohol to sleep.
Monroe at the Actors Studio, where she began studying method acting in 1955 The two returned to the United States and purchased a home in Connecticut. Marilyn stood with Miller while he was attacked by the House Un-American Activities Committee run by Senator Joseph McCarthy, well known for investigating the famous for ties, real or imagined, to the Communist Party. In 1959 Marilyn appeared in Some Like It Hot with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The film was a critical and box office success. Marilyn had already been fired from several projects due to habitual lateness and for being difficult to work with on set, and her anguish over her failing marriage only made things worse. She completed Let’s Make Love in 1960 with Yves Montand and, starved for affection, had become involved in an affair with Montand, further alienating her from her husband. She re-entered psychoanalysis, but it seemed to her that her doctor was more concerned with his infatuation for her than on her mental well-being. Monroe as a mentally disturbed babysitter in the thriller Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) Miller had been writing a screenplay for her, The Misfits, with Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, and Eli Wallach. Filming started in 1960 with Miller on the set every day. During the filming, Miller met Inge Morath, a film archivist, and Marilyn was forced to watch as her husband fell in love with another woman. Three months after filming began Miller and Monroe announced their separation. Marilyn moved back to California and began filming the movie Something’s Got to Give with Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse but was fired for her inability to show up on time. On May 19, 1962, Peter Lawford had arranged an appearance with Marilyn at a Democratic Fundraiser at Madison Square Garden. It was there that Marilyn appeared in the now famous skin-tight dress and sang Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy.
Three months later Marilyn died. She was discovered by her housekeeper on August 5, 1962, in her Brentwood home, the victim of an overdose of barbiturates. Her link with the Kennedy family has caused many to believe that she was secretly murdered or that she committed suicide. Here is another Hollywood story from us: For the movie “Gone With the Wind”, 1,400 actresses were interviewed to play the part of Scarlett O’Hara Her former husband Joe DiMaggio stepped up and took care of the funeral arrangements with Lee Strasburg delivering the eulogy. Marilyn was interred at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, and DiMaggio made sure that a fresh red rose was placed at her grave every day.
A Crypt that’s believed to be Jesus’ Tomb has been opened for the first time in centuries
In October 2016, researchers began investigating the site in Jerusalem that is traditionally said to have been the location where the body of Jesus Christ was laid to rest. During a total of 60 uninterrupted hours of work, they photographed the tomb that had previously remained sealed for centuries, and they also retrieved samples of mortar from it. At the end of the stint, dozens of scientists, along with prominent priests and monks, used the rare opportunity to look inside the marble shrine that protects the tomb, which is known as the Edicule. The tomb was unsealed amid restoration efforts at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, inside which shelters the Edicule, which dates from the 18th century, and the tomb within it. While science won’t rush to confirm that this was 100 percent for sure the resting place of Jesus of Nazareth, it appears that the tomb itself has indeed survived turbulent historical events and natural disasters. It reportedly remained in situ when the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed and re-erected in the past. Some significant news related to the tomb of Jesus was shared by scientists who arrived a year later. In November 2017 it was revealed that analysis of materials taken from the tomb’s opening places its age in the 4th century A.D. Such news supports the traditional beliefs and narratives related to the sacred site. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the Christian Quarter of the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan. Author: Jorge Láscar, CC-BY 2.0 When the tomb was unsealed, it created a moment of fascination to both scientists and believers. “This is the Holy Rock that has been revered for centuries, but only now can actually be seen,” were the words of Antonia Moropolou, the Chief Scientific Supervisor Professor, and leader of the restoration and conservation efforts of the Edicule. For centuries now, those remains have indeed been revered as the tomb of Jesus Christ. The tomb itself consists of an empty burial bed believed to have been the place where Jesus was buried and later resurrected. As accounts suggest, the burial bed was cut out from a cave wall. In the mid-16th century, or perhaps even earlier, a cladding made of marble was added on top of the bed to protect it from enthusiasts, or pilgrims, removing parts of the sacred artifact. Five Members of the Utrecht Brotherhood of Jerusalem Pilgrims, painting by Jan van Scorel The cladding was removed on October 26, 2016, and an initial check-up by conservationists from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) revealed a filler material that lurked beneath. A surprise came hours later when another slab of marble, older and cracked, was exposed. This second slab was engraved with a cross and appeared to rest directly on top of the original cover of the limestone burial bed. Researchers speculated on which period the second slab was dated; however, they were happy that the original bed was there intact. “We can’t say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades,” commented Frederik Hiebert, a National Geographic archaeologist-in-residence. According to archaeologists, it is not possible to say whether the tomb indeed belonged to Jesus. What can be said is that this place has been historically acknowledged as the Jesus burial bed by delegates of the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century A.D. What also adds weights to the question is that over the long course of history, the Church of Holy Sepulchre has itself undergone numerous incidents. In 1009, for example, the church was reportedly destroyed and rebuilt again. Such events have undoubtedly led modern-day scholars to remain cautious about claims that this is truly the burial place of Christ as acknowledged by the Roman delegation 1,700 years ago.
A scheme showing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre after a restoration in 1808 Light was shed on at least one aspect of the story, however, when in November of last year research confirmed that the tomb is nearly 1,700 years. Reportedly, the research team used a novel technique known as optically stimulated luminescence to determine how recently the quartz sediment samples extracted from the mortar of the tomb were exposed to light. The test results are a pretty close match to the time when the Roman delegation paid the visit, National Geographic reported. Earlier estimates about the age of the tomb proposed that it was as old as a millennium, which would have been the Crusader period. The latest information shared about the tomb’s age appear to match the historical narrative that the Ancient Romans built a monument at the site around three centuries after the death of Jesus. According to more findings shared by NTUA, which has previously handled restoration efforts on other significant sites such as the Acropolis in Athens, there is a “very real risk” that the holiest of all Christian sites could suffer from structural failure and collapse. The NTUA team has found out during the restoration activities that the Edicule sits on a precarious foundation composed of decayed mortar, rubble, as well as underground tunnels. The team warned in March 2017 that additional work is a must to prevent the shrine from undergoing unwanted damage in the future. Related story from us: Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus sells for $450 million but some art critics aren’t persuaded he painted it The latest restoration efforts of the Edicule were delayed by disputes among the Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Roman Catholic denominations, all three of which share custody of this church. The Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, and Ethiopian Tewahedo also have a presence at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but to a lesser degree.
Rob Roy MacGregor – “The Scottish Robin Hood”
Robert “Rob” Roy MacGregor was a Scottish outlaw, who later became a folk hero, immortalized in the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Roy MacGregor was lifting cattle and extracting money from people with his gang in exchange for offering them security from thieves. He wasn’t exactly like Robin Hood but still, Roy is remembered as the “Scottish Robin Hood”. Portrait engraving of Rob Roy c. 1820s Rob Roy was born at Glengyle, at the head of Loch Katrine and when he was only 18-years-old, along with his father, Roy joined the Highland clansmen in the Jacobite rising to support King Stuart James II. In 1689, Dundee was killed and the rebellion quelled. Roy’s father was imprisoned for two years and his mother died. The Gregor chief never recovered physically or mentally. Rob Roy’s Putting Stone, a boulder he supposedly used for stone putting, near Lochan nan Eireannaich at the head of Kirkton Glen where the pass leads from Balquhidder to Glen Dochart. Photo credit In a meantime, Rob Roy became a respected cattleman and well-known racketeer who charged farmers an average 5% of their animal rent in an exchange for protection of their cattle. However, he was good at it – he had guaranteed to his customers that any lost or stolen cattle would be returned to them. However, he was quite rigorous to those who wouldn’t pay. Factor’s Island, Loch Katrine, where Rob Roy once imprisoned the Duke’s factor. Photo credit Although a respected cattleman and protector of other cattlemen, Rob Roy became an infamous character since he began stealing the cattle. He even stole most of the cattle from his earlier benefactor, the Duke of Montrose. The Duke took revenge by abducting Roy’s house and leaving his wife and four sons homeless during the coldest winter days.
The remains of Rob Roy MacGregor’s house in upper Glen Shira. Photo credit Trying to gain property and cattle in 1715, Rob Roy borrowed a lot of money but soon got bankrupt and in debts. In 1716 he moved to Glen Shira where he built a house and lived there for four years. In 1717, the Indemnity Act 1717 was passed and granted the amnesty of all those who took part in the Jacobite rising of 1715, with the exception of few people who were all members of the Gregor clan. In 1719 Rob Roy was badly wounded at the Battle of Glen Shiel and in 1722 he moved to Inverlochlarig Beag on the Braes of Balquhidder. Grave site of Rob Roy MacGregor, marking his wife (Helen) Mary, and his sons Coll and Robert (Balquhidder). Photo credit We have another story on Scotland:The Fairy flag of King Harald Hardrada is the most precious treasure of MacLeods in the Dunvegan Castle in Scotland The end of Rob Roy’s life is uncertain but according to some stories, he was transported to Barbados in 1727 and decided to settle down. Apparently, he lived a peaceful life until his death in 1734. However, there is a second chapter of the Gregor clan and it refers to Rob Roy’s violent sons – James and Rob Oig.
Bloodletting helped curing illnesses for decades; Patients that needed bloodletting were sent to the barbershops
During the Medieval Ages, it was believed that the health of a person’s body depended on the so-called four humours: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. People believed that if one of these humours was out of balance, the person was ill. The most popular method for curing the illnesses was bloodletting. At the beginning, the bloodletting was performed by clerks. In 1215, the Pope issued a decree which forbade clerks to take part in any shedding of blood. Patients that needed bloodletting were sent to the barbershops. Points for blood-letting, Hans von Gersdorff (surgeon), Field book of wound medicine, 1517 Barbers had the equipment needed for performing bloodletting. Besides cutting hair, they could pull teeth, amputate limbs, and administer leeches. As the barbers knew how to use a razor, it was presumed that they would be skillful in carrying out any treatment that involved cutting the skin, and so the practice was passed over to them. Blood was removed from the patient’s body by using tools such as lancet (a small surgical knife with a sharp point). Depending on the condition of the patient, different amounts of blood were drawn from the patient’s body. During the procedure, the patients were given a pole which they gripped in order to make their veins bulge. The blood was kept in shallow bowls or flint glass cups which barbers placed on the windows of the barbershops. The used bandages were hung on the barber’s pole in order to advertise the services that the barbers offered. Today the barber’s poles have red and white stripes which represent the blood and the bandages.
Ioannis Sculteti, Armamentium Chirugiae, 1693 — Diagrammed transfusion of sheep’s blood A great number of surgeons who performed bloodletting were wiped out by the Black Plague during the 14th century. This increased the number of patients who turned to the barbers seeking for help. There were many barbers who set tents in different towns where they offered their services. They were called ‘The Flying Barbers’. Bloodletting-Set of a Barber Surgeon, beginning of 19th Century., Markisches Museum Berlin The barbers and the surgeons operated in different medical guilds until 1540 when king Henry VIII united the two guilds into one company named ‘The Company of Barber-Surgeons’. Barbers knew how to make a bloodletting, but performing more complicated surgeries was just too much for them. People started to complain that barbers made them feel sick instead of well. Barbers could not compete with the surgeons anymore. Ambroise Pare, who is known as the father of the surgery, raised the professional status of surgery. After this, barbers were no longer allowed to perform any surgical procedure except bloodletting. This lead to separation of the two companies in 1745 by an act of parliament. Bloodletting in 1860, one of only three known photographs of the procedure The bloodletting method was spread through America by the European colonies. Many Americans preferred this method for curing their diseases. George Washington, the first president of the United States, died after having 3.75 liters of blood removed from his body within a 10 hour period as a treatment of throat infection. Here is another wacko story from us: Bet you didn’t know the bloody history behind the iconic barber pole! By the 19th Century, barbering was completely separated from medicine and began to emerge as an independent profession. The bloodletting method was still performed, but it killed far more people than it cured.
Chan Chan: The largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas
Built around 1300 AD, Chan Chan is the largest city of the pre-Columbian era in South America. It was the capital of the Chimú Kingdom and today is one of the biggest archaeological sites located in La Libertad Region, 5 kilometers west of Trujillo, Peru. Chan Chan means “Sun Sun”, named for its sunny climate which cooled year round by a southerly breeze. Unlike most coas