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St. George Church

Saint George church is located in the heart of Addis Ababa, in the place called Arada (that is why it is often referred as Arada Giorgis).

Emperor Menelik II dealt a crushing defeat on the forces of Italy on St. George’s day in 1896 at Adowa. In gratitude to saint George, who has served as a Patron Saint of the Empire, and of the Armed Forces, Emperor Menelik commissioned the construction of a church in his honor in the heart of Addis Ababa. The Italian prisoners of war assisted in the construction of the church as their government negotiated the terms of peace and their release.

The Church of Saint George was where Empress Zewditu was crowned Empress of Ethiopia in 1917, and where Emperor Haile Selassie was crowned in 1930. An equestrian statue of Emperor Menelik II stands in Menelik Square outside the main gates of the church. It was erected by Emperor Haile Selassie on the eve of his coronation in 1930. Also at the church is a large bell which was sent as a gift from Czar Alexander III of Russia to mark the dedication of the church.

During the Italian Fascist invasion of Ethiopia, an attempt was made on the life of the Italian Vice-Roy Graziani and in retaliation, the fascists launched a brutal massacre in Addis Ababa and during the course of this slaughter, they entered and torched the church of Saint George. Although the structure of the Cathedral survived the flames, the interior was completely gutted.

Following his restoration to the throne in 1941, Emperor Haile Selassie had the church restored, and new murals were painted by the famous Ethiopian artists, including Maître Artiste Afework Tekle.