The New York Post:
Christians in Ethiopia never saw ‘Ark of the Covenant’ they died for
They were slaughtered trying to stop real-life raiders of the lost ark — an artifact so powerful and holy they were forbidden from ever seeing it.
The harrowing mass-murder of at least 800 people at an Ethiopian church in Tigray highlighted the apparent whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant, one of the biggest mysteries in religion and the stuff of movie legend.
The ark — a large, gold-covered wooden chest said to hold Moses’ Ten Commandments — was held at the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem for centuries, but vanished after Jerusalem was sacked in 586 or 587 BC, according to the Old Testament.
Since then its whereabouts have remained unknown — with rumors including it being stolen by the Knights Templar and hidden in a rebuilt French cathedral, as well as it being buried alongside Alexander the Great in Greece.
However, Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians have long maintained that the ark has been held in a chapel at the Church of St. Mary of Zion in the holy northern city of Axum.
According to legend, the ark was brought to Ethiopia in the 10th century BC after being stolen by the staff of Menelik, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of Israel — who deemed the theft was permitted by God because none of his men were killed.
The ark is said to be so dangerous it was always covered while moved — and in Axum, only virgin monks ordained to be its keeper are allowed to look at it.
Thousands gather at the Zion church in late November to celebrate the day Ethiopians believe the Ark of the Covenant was brought there — one of the reasons so many people were there during the November slaughter, which was only recently reported.
“When people heard the shooting they ran to the church to give support to the priests and others who were there protecting the ark,” Getu Mak, 32, a university lecturer, told The Times of London. “Certainly some of them were killed for doing that.”
Reports of the destruction and looting of priceless artifacts by troops prompted fears that the ark would be targeted. “Everyone was worried it would be taken … or just disappear, including me,” Mak told the UK paper.
It was not immediately clear how the church’s ark was saved, nor what happened to its guardian.