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Slum Priests in Argentina, between So...
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
18 Jun 2015

Imagine a vicar, bored and tired of giving sermons to old devout women of his parish. His mind is somewhere else. Imagine this same priest all day long, walking around, riding his bike on the dirty and destroyed roads of the Buenos Aires’ slums; trying to avoid all the holes, puddles of water… surrounded sometimes by exchanges of gunfire. In Argentina, slum priests (“curas villeros”) became famous when the Vatican elected Jorge Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Pope Francis, in February 2013. If Francis is now considered as a “popular” Pope (or Pope “of the poor”), it is thanks to one of the “curas villeros”, Father “Pepe”, who had received Bergoglio in “his” slum to show him the plight of the people in his overwhelmingly impoverished parish.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio himself had always been a fervent partisan of (popular) Liberation theology and tolerated and engaged with the popular devotional practices of these unprivileged populations, mostly composed of immigrants from nearby Bolivia or Paraguay. Popular religiosity is the only leitmotiv of these activist priests. They are often in conflict with the Vatican, who has labeled them as “heretics,” because of their having baptized children of single mothers and for having tolerated popular devotional practices towards unrecognized saints. They don’t hesitate to stray from Catholics dogma, which they sometimes find ignores the issues facing the people in their parishes. At the same time, “slum priests” also stay away from local politics.

“Here (in the “villas”), there are no right or left-wing positions. All the matter is to get water, access to electricity, and to improve daily life,” insists Father Gustavo Carrara.

All around the Argentinean capital and its huge suburbs, these “slum priests” try to help the city’s most impoverished people, whose numbers have increased between 2010 to 2014 with the population of these “villas” passing from 163,000 to 275,000 in Buenos Aires alone, according to the local secretary for housing. Far away from the sumptuous Cathedral of the “Plaza de Mayo” in Buenos Aires, slum priests are practicing in precarious parishes, built by themselves with the unconditional help of neighbours. Among the religiously devout social activists offering their help to these vicars of the poor are psychologists, social workers and spokespeople for the marginalized. Suspicious towards corrupt policemen and the shady politicians, they fight alongside these priests to save the youth from the dangers of the street, from drugs, and to help struggling mothers.

 

Les pretres des pauvres: entre la révolution et l'héresie​

Les prêtres tiers-mondistes en Argentine, entre révolution sociale et hérésie ? Imaginez un curé fatigué de donner des sermons aux vieilles dévotes de sa paroisse. Celles-ci l’ennuient, à la longue, car il a mieux à faire. Imaginez ce curé passant ses journées à déambuler en vélo dans les rues en terres des bidonvilles, en évitant les trous, les flaques d’eau… et les fusillades ! En Argentine, les curés tiers-mondistes (“curas villeros”) sont devenus célèbres lors de l’élection de l’ancien archevêque de Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, devenu le Pape François en février 2013. Si François est aujourd’hui présenté comme le Pape “du peuple” (ou “des pauvres”), c’est essentiellement grâce à l’un de ces “curas villeros”, le Père “Pepe”, qui le recevait dans “son” bidonville, afin de l’alerter des problèmes du peuple.

Aux quatre coins de la capitale argentine, ainsi que dans son immense périphérie, ils viennent en aide aux plus démunis, dont le nombre ne cesse d’augmenter (de 2010 à 2014, la population des “villas” est passée de 163.000 à 275.000 personnes dans la seule ville de Buenos Aires, selon le Secrétariat de l’habitat, et dont les problématiques sont trop souvent oubliées des pouvoirs publics. Bien loin de la Cathédrale fastueuse de la place de Mai de Buenos Aires, les curés villeros exercent dans des paroisses précaires, qu’ils ont souvent dû construire eux-mêmes, avec l’aide inconditionnelle des riverains. Ces sacerdotes hors du commun, vêtus aussi humblement que leurs fidèles, sont un mélange d’assistants sociaux, de psychologues et de porte-paroles des pauvres. Méfiants vis-à-vis des policiers corrompus, des représentants politiques véreux, ils repêchent les jeunes de la rue et de la drogue, assistent les mères désemparées, qui ne savent plus quoi faire de la ribambelle d’enfants arrivés trop tôt…

Ces hommes de terrain ont comme seul mot d’ordre la religiosité populaire. Ils se sont parfois attirés les foudres du Vatican, qui les considère comme des “hérétiques”, pour avoir notamment baptisé des enfants de mères célibataires et accepté la dévotion des villeros pour des saints et des vierges non-reconnus par l’Église. Ils n’hésitent pas à prendre certaines libertés par rapport au dogme catholique et aux concepts de l’Eglise, parfois complètement déconnectée de la réalité sociale, même s’ils se défendent d’appartenir à quelconque mouvement de gauche ou du péronisme.

« Ici (dans les villas), il n’y a pas de droite ni de gauche : tout ce qui importe, c’est d’avoir de l’eau, de l’électricité et de vivre mieux », insiste ainsi le Père Gustavo Carrara.

Jorge Bergoglio lui-même a toujours été un fervent défenseur de la Théologie du Peuple, refusant de condamner leur vision de la foi et s’appuyant sur les croyances populaires de cette population déshéritée, qui compte un grand nombre d’immigrants (Boliviens et Paraguayens).

 

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Sudanese Sufis Attempt to "Reach God"...
Khartoum
By Mohammed Abuamrain
23 Mar 2015

Khartoum, Sudan
March 23, 2015

Al-Samaniya is one of the most prevalent Sufi orders in Sudan. Followers of this Tariqa, young and old alike, attempt to reach God by reiterating "There is no God but Allah" while bowing repetitively.

Video shows Samaniya members performing a ceremonial prayer at a mosque in Khartoum. It also includes an interview with a clerical member of the order, Sheikh Jaafar Mohammed, who explains the devotional practices and beliefs of the Samaniya order.

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Le club de mon quartier
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

A virgin watches over the community during the years-end festival. Behind, a sign reads "CLUB ATLETICO MADRE DEL PUEBLO, EL CLUB DE MI BARRIO," the association that organizes sports and cultural activity in the neighbourhood.

Pendant la fête de fin d'année à la villa, une vierge veille sur le voisinage.
En fond: "CLUB ATLETICO MADRE DEL PUEBLO, EL CLUB DE MI BARRIO" ("le club de mon quatier"), l'association géré par les habitants et les curés, qui organisent de multiples activités culturelles et sportives

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Fête populaire dans la villa
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

In the "First of November 2014" slum, also called "Bajo Flores," a festival is organized by the parish and the community.

Dans la villa 1-11-14, dite du « Bajo Flores », une fête organisée conjointement par la paroisse et les habitants.

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Padre Gustavo
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

Father Gustavo is a key personality in the city, promoting social cohesion and the community's visibility.

Le Père Gustavo est un personnage-clé de la villa, clé de voûte du vivre ensemble et de la visibilité du quartier.

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Papa Francisco
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

Pope Francis waves from a mural adorning the wall of the San Lorenzo football club's stadium.

Le Pape François (Papa Francisco) vous salue, depuis les murs du stade du club de football San Lorenzo, "son" club.

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Villa
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

The entrance to the "First of November 2014" slum, seen from the San Lorenzo stadium.

L'une des entrées de la villa 1-11-14, vue depuis le stade de San Lorenzo.

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Fête populaire dans la villa
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

A banner reading "Papa de los villeros" ("The Pope of the slumdwellers" in Spanish) adorns the neighborhood square during a public gathering.

En fond: "papa de los villeros" ("le pape des (habitants de) bidonvilles", en espagnol)

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 26
Narayangonj
By zakir hossain chowdhury
14 Nov 2014

Every year thousands of Hindu devotees gather in front of Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram temple for the Kartik Brati or Rakher Upobash religious festival in Barodi, Near Dhaka, Bangladesh. Faithful sit in front of candles light ( named locally as Prodip ) and absorb in prayer.

Lokenath Brahmachari who is called Baba Lokenath was an 18th Century Hindu saint and philosopher in Bengal. Hindu worshippers fast and pray in earnest to the gods for their favors during the traditional ritual called Kartik Brati or Rakher Upobash

Lokenath Brahmachari devotees pray with light to save their family and dear from cholera and pox disease

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 29
Narayangonj
By zakir hossain chowdhury
10 Nov 2014

Every year thousands of Hindu devotees gather in front of Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram temple for the Kartik Brati or Rakher Upobash religious festival in Barodi, Near Dhaka, Bangladesh. Faithful sit in front of candles light ( named locally as Prodip ) and absorb in prayer.

Lokenath Brahmachari who is called Baba Lokenath was an 18th Century Hindu saint and philosopher in Bengal. Hindu worshippers fast and pray in earnest to the gods for their favors during the traditional ritual called Kartik Brati or Rakher Upobash

Lokenath Brahmachari devotees pray with light to save their family and dear from cholera and pox disease

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 01
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
04 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They light lamps and candles and bring offerings of fruit, sweets, nuts and cowÕs milk, praying to Baba Lokenath to save their family and dear ones from curses and disease.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 06
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
04 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
04 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
04 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
04 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 02
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They light lamps and candles and bring offerings of fruit, sweets, nuts and cowÕs milk, praying to Baba Lokenath to save their family and dear ones from curses and disease.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 03
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 04
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 05
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 07
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 08
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 09
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 10
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 11
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 13
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 14
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 15
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They light lamps and candles and bring offerings of fruit, sweets, nuts and cowÕs milk, praying to Baba Lokenath to save their family and dear ones from curses and disease.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 16
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 17
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 19
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 20
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 21
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They observe a strict fast and remain sitting absorbed in prayer until the flames burn-out.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 22
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They light lamps and candles and bring offerings of fruit, sweets, nuts and cowÕs milk, praying to Baba Lokenath to save their family and dear ones from curses and disease.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 23
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They light lamps and candles and bring offerings of fruit, sweets, nuts and cowÕs milk, praying to Baba Lokenath to save their family and dear ones from curses and disease.

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"rakher upobas'' prayer 24
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
03 Nov 2014

At the Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram near Dhaka, members of BangladeshÕs Hindu community come together to celebrate the ÒRakher UpobasÓ prayer to the god Lokenath Brahmachari, who is said to embody love in the Hindu tradition. They light lamps and candles and bring offerings of fruit, sweets, nuts and cowÕs milk, praying to Baba Lokenath to save their family and dear ones from curses and disease.

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Celebration of Sayeda Zeinab (3 of 9)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
04 Jun 2013

Inside the Sayed Zeinab mosque, thousands make the final leg of the trek to tomb of the Prophet Mohamed’s granddaughter.

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The Pilgrimage (7 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
29 Dec 2012

In the 1500s, King Lalibela had 11 churches hewn from a 'mother rock' in order to create a holy place underground safe for pilgrims to worship and evade detection. The result was so captivating that the first European to enter the site wrote "I am weary of writing more about these buildings, because it seems to me that I shall not be believed if I write more." Lalibela's vision ensured continued worship for hundreds of years, with masses of the pious still congregating each Christmas. Lalibela, Ethiopia. December 2012.

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The Pilgrimage (5 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
29 Dec 2012

Serenity and fulfillment consummate one's spiritual journey. For the pilgrims transfixed in prayer, the experience has been a voyage both into the depths of the earth as well as the depths of their own faith. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, in the small town of 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.

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The Pilgrimage (4 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
29 Dec 2012

Resting against the rock face of the church, an Orthodox Christian is caught in a moment of contemplation. Each of the underground churches contain a thick and richly colored curtain hiding a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, viewed only by priests, deacons and bishops. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, in the small town of 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.

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The Pilgrimage (3 of 29)
Lalibela, Ethiopia
By Leyland Cecco
29 Dec 2012

Pious Ethiopian Orthodox Christians stand above the cross-shaped stone church of Bet Giyorgis. After congregating early in the morning, the pilgrims travel down the stone steps of the church to be blessed by the priest. Perched high in the mountains of Northern Ethiopia, in the small town of 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.