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The Pilgrimage (19 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
31 Dec 2012

Pilgrims rest in the evening near the holy rock churches of Lalibela. In anticipation for the coming Christmas celebration, thousands of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians set up camp in the days leading up to the event. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (14 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
31 Dec 2012

A pilgrim returns to the camp near Lalibela's rock churches. Thousands of the pious will sleep on the fields in anticipation for the upcoming Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas celebration. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, Bet Giyorgis is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for one of the oldest Christian sects in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (16 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

A pilgrim reads from the bible along the steep walls of Lalibela's stone churches. Originally built in the 12th and 13th centuries as a second Jerusalem for Ethiopia's Orthodox Christians, pilgrims arrive to the site each year to celebrate Orthodox Christmas. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (13 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

An Ethiopian Orthodox Christian priest greets pilgrims as they descend upon Bet Giyorgis, the iconic cross-shaped church. The church, along with 10 other rock churches, make up Lalibela's pilgrimage site. Inside each church is a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, which is viewed only by the priests and deacons. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (23 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

Clad in tattered robes and blankets, pilgrims follow a priest into a rock church in Lalibela's holy complex. The pilgrims descend from all parts of the country to take part in the prayers during Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, Bet Giyorgis is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for one of the oldest Christian sects in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (21 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

Pilgrims make the journey back to their camps in the late afternoon. Coming from all parts of the country, the pilgrims rest on the grass outside of the church complex during the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, Bet Giyorgis is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for one of the oldest Christian sects in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (26 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

Smoke and mist hang over the mountain town of Lalibela, home to Ethiopia's yearly Christmas pilgrimage. From all over the country, pious Ethiopian Orthodox Christians travel to the sacred rock churches. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (24 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

A group of women enter one of Lalibela's largest rock churches. Carved from the mountain to evade detection, the holy site is meant to represent a second Jersusalem to Ethiopia's Orthodox Christians. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, Bet Giyorgis is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for one of the oldest Christian sects in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (27 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

A group of pilrims gather for prayer at Bet Giyorgis, the cross-shaped church. Lalibela is a holy site for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, with churches hewn from the mountain. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (22 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

A group of young Ethiopian Orthodox Christians read from a bible during a morning prayer service at one of Lalibela's holy rock churches. Pilgrims flock to the area for the Orthodox Christmas celebrations. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, Bet Giyorgis is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for one of the oldest Christian sects in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (18 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

A lone pilgrim reads from the bible along the stone pathways linking Lalibela's 11 stone churches. Built after the 1187 invasion of Saladin, the church complex hides below the ground in order to evade detection. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, Bet Giyorgis is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for one of the oldest Christian sects in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (20 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
30 Dec 2012

A pilgrim leaves the rock church Bet Giyorgis in the late afternoon, prior to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas Celebration. Bet Giyorgis is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for one of the oldest Christian sects in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (15 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
29 Dec 2012

A pilgrim enters one of Lalibela's rock churches. Hewn from the mountain, these churches were originally built below ground to evade detection. Called the 'Petra of Africa' due to its striking similarity to Jordan's Petra complex, this site relatively unknown (outside of Ethiopia) draws thousands of pilgrims each year for the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas celebration. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (28 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
29 Dec 2012

A group of pilgrims recite the bible at an early morning prayer at the holy complex of Lalibela. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, Bet Giyorgis is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for one of the oldest Christian sects in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (9 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
29 Dec 2012

A pilgrim prays against the wall of Bet Giyorgis, the cross-shaped stone church in Lalibela. Bet Giyorgis is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for one of the oldest Christian sects in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.