Gebre Mesqel Lalibela

Gebre Mesqel Lalibela

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Gebre Mesqel Lalibela

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Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (reign early 13th century), also called simply "Lalibela", which means "the bees recognise his sovereignty" in Old Agaw, was negus or king of Ethiopia and a member of the Zagwe dynasty. He is also considered a saint by the Ethiopian church. According to Taddesse Tamrat, he was the son of Jan Seyum and brother of Kedus Harbe. Tradition states that he reigned for 40 years.Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 56n.Getachew Mekonnen Hasen, Wollo, Yager Dibab (Addis Ababa: Nigd Matemiya Bet, 1992), p. 22. He is best known as the king who either built or commissioned the monolithic churches of Lalibela.


King Lalibela was born at either Adefa or Roha (it was later named Lalibela after him) in Bugna. He was given the name "Lalibela" due to a swarm of bees said to have surrounded him at his birth, which his mother took as a sign of his future reign as Emperor of Ethiopia. Tradition states that he went into exile due to the hostility of his uncle Tatadim and his brother king Kedus Harbe, and was almost poisoned to death by his half-sister. Because Lalibela came to power during his brother's lifetime, Taddesse Tamrat suspects that he came to power by force of arms.

Lalibela is said to have seen Jerusalem in a vision and...
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