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Christianity in Africa

Above: Bete Giyorgis (Church of St. George), Lalibela, Ethiopia, Author Bernard Gagnon (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Christianity did not concern Africa as the outcome of European colonialism. Its existence on the continent dates to the time of the Apostles.

Christianity is believed to have actually been given Alexandria, Egypt by Mark around 60 AD [1] Christian neighborhoods existed there by the year 100 ADVERTISEMENT, if not earlier [2] The Septuagint (the earliest Greek translation of the Old Testament) was started there. The Church Daddies Clement, Origen, and Athanasius all resided there [3]

The so called Desert Fathers– early monks, hermits, and ascetics– are understood to have actually resided in the Egyptian desert from the 3rd Century onward [4] Monasticism was, in reality, established in Africa under St. Anthony.

The Kingdom of Axum in Ethiopia underwent conversion in the 4th Century under King Ezana [5] The very first coins bearing the sign of the cross were minted here. In the 12th and 13th Centuries, eleven Christian churches in Lalibela were carved from the living rock under the instructions of a revered king by that name [6] They are today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Christianity was peacefully developed in the Kingdom of Cush (Nubia) in the 6th Century, and thrived there for 1000 years.

Unfortunately, the history of Christianity in Africa, as elsewhere, was later on tarnished by individual aspiration, power politics, and business interests, most especially the slave trade. However those not familiar with its origins ignore treasures.

[1] BBC, “The Story of Africa– Christianity”,

[2] Wikipedia,”Early centers of Christianity”,¬†

[3] Wikipedia, “Church Fathers”,

[4]¬†Wikipedia,” Desert Dads ” ,

[5] World Historia, “King Ezana of Axum (Ethiopia)”, 3/15/07,

[6] Wikipedia,”Lalibela”,

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