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The Coronation of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I.



Contributed by the Rastafari Community
Taken from Rastafari Beat Magazine (1993)

“The invited foreign envoys begin to arrive around October18, from such places as England, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, Egypt, France, U.S.A., Germany, Greece, Turkey, and Poland. Following ancient tradition, 49 bishops and priests in groups of seven, in seven corners of the cathedral, chant continually nine Psalms of David for seven days and nights prior to the coronation.{{more}}

“On November 1, the eve of the coronation, the Emperor inaugurates a statue of the great Menelik II. The honor of unveiling goes to the Duke of Gloucester, the envoy of the King of England. The same evening, the imperial vestments and ornaments are taken in a great parade to the royal church of St George and consigned to the Archbishop who prays over them all night. The cathedral of St. George is a magnificent structure built during the reign of Menelik II and was the scene of the crowning of Empress Zawditu in 1916. His imperial Majesty and His family enter the church at midnight for a night of prayer.

“More the 700 guests and officials are in attendance on November 2, 1930, to witness this ancient Hebraic-Christian coronation ceremony. Lion-maned chieftains are interspersed among the foreign guests and dignitaries, each according to rank and station. Hundreds of priests join the original group, resplendent in their colorful ceremonial robes, bearing crosses and censers. Before the royal ritual begins, His Majesty is approached by the Archbishop, His Holiness Abuna Kyrillos, with a Holy Bible bound in gold, and is asked to pledge the following four-part oath:

“To strengthen and defend the orthodox faith, and to keep, without disturbance, the laws and ordinances which the Orthodox Church has laid down”

“To act with consideration for the interests of the people according to law as well as with kindness and patience”

“To safeguard the entire Ethiopian realm and people in accordance with the established law and the ordinances of the Council”

“To assist with the establishment of schools in Ethiopia where secular and spiritual education would be developed and the gospels would be preached”

The Emperor then affirms verbally and in writing that He is willing to fulfill His duties as ruler.”

“Next, the Abuna recites the prayer of the covenant, after which the choir with the drum and harp accompaniment chants the 48th Psalm. During this Interval, abbots from various monasteries bring the royal articles one by one, hand them to the six bishops, who were assigned by the Archbishop to the coronation service, and the bishops in turn pass the articles to the Abuna to be blessed. The objects are returned to the respective bishops who then present them to His Imperial Majesty, reciting appropriate lines. With each of the seven ornaments, His Imperial Majesty is anointed on the head, brow, and shoulders with seven differently scented ointments of ancient prescription. He is first vested with a gold sword along with this exhortation: “May you be enabled with this sword to punish the wicked and protect the righteous.”

“This is followed with the bestowal of the Imperial scepter of ivory and gold, and the golden orb (globe), a diamond incrusted ring, two traditional lances (spears) filigreed in gold, the imperial vestments, and finally, anointing His head with oil, the Abuna places upon H.I.M. the triple crown. The Archbishop concludes the regal anointing with the words: “That God may make this crown a crown of sanctity and glory. That, by the grace and the blessings which we have given, you may have an unshaken faith and a pure heart, in order that you may inherit the crown eternal. So be it.” The Crown Prince, Asfa Wossen, removes his coronet and on bended knee pledges his allegiance, service, and support.

“The Empress and her ladies of honor then enter the sanctuary from the right side and she takes her throne to the right of His Majesty for her coronation. It has been determined that the Abuna is to place the crown and ring upon Her Majesty, without the regal anointing, on the same day of the Emperor’s coronation. This not only breaks tradition, but sets a historical precedent as the earlier practice was for her to be crowned on the third day after the coronation of the Emperor, in the palace and not in the church.

“The final part of the ceremony is a tour of the cathedral by their Imperial Majesties, escorted by the bishops and priests, the princes and dignitaries, assistants and others, carrying palm branches and chanting, “Blessed be the King of Israel” The procession continues onto the Addis Ababa streets, where throngs of well wishers wildly cheer the Royal Family. The event draws to a close with Their Majesties visiting the other churches in the city to give thanks and praise.”