Friday, October 26: We walk through another passageway cut into solid rock to Bet Mikael, also known as Bet Debre Sina, which serves as an anteroom to the Selassie Chapel, one of Lalibela’s holiest sanctuaries. Sadly, the Selassie Chapel is rarely opened to the public, so we don’t get to see that.
However, in Bet Mikael, we come upon a group of men dressed in white, chanting, beating on drums, and burning incense. They are in the midst of a church service which is beyond my understanding or experience. The men seem suspended in some mystical, ethereal world, dressed as they are and enveloped in a haze of incense smoke and streaming sunlight. We stand, enraptured by them for quite some time, amazed that we happened upon this holy ceremony.
Attached to Bet Mikael is Bet Golgotha, which is not open to women! I always HATE this kind of rule, and don’t see why men are considered the only people holy enough to enter such places!! So my friend Ed goes in along with Masala, who takes my camera and snaps a few pictures. It doesn’t look like I miss that much anyway. Apparently Bet Golgotha contains some of the best early examples of Ethiopian Christian art.
We wander back outside into the sunlight, where we walk through another narrow passage cut in the rock. We come upon Bet Uraiel, where a priest with a large cross poses with me outside of a cave opening.
And finally, inside of a deep trench outside of Bet Golgotha and Bet Uraiel is the so-called Tomb of Adam,which is simply a giant, hollowed-out block of stone.