Feast of Saint Gabriel “Kulubi Gabriel”

Saint Gabriel is the Patron Saint who guards over homes and churches. There is a huge pilgrimage at every December 28th to Saint Gabriel’s Church on Kulubi hill, which is on the route from Addis Ababa eastwards, about 70 kilometers before Dire Dawa. Many pilgrims carry heavy burdens as penance, children are brought to be baptized, and offerings are made to be distributed to the poor.The town of Kulubi has a huge church built on the top of a hill. Apparently, there was a church there since 1880, but it was rebuilt in 1962 by Emperor Haile Selassie. Since the new church was built, people have been making a pilgrimages to Kulubi twice a year. People walk from as far as Addis (400km) while others take vehicular transportation. Originally, I had planned to walk the 50km from campus, but since I had been feeling under the weather, I opted to take a mini-bus. My friend Solomon walked the entire way by himself; I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to join him, but I just wanted to feel better after being sick for several weeks. The thousands of people that walk to Kulubi mostly sleep outside around the churchyard. For the event, many vendors show up to sell souvenirs (t-shirts, cross necklaces, hats) and food (lots of fried bread and traditional dishes). There is also an area near the church set up as a marketplace for animals; cattle, sheep, and goats are sold to be sacrificed. Besides animals, people bring other gifts to set outside the church. In front of the church, there was a huge pile of colorful umbrellas. These velvety umbrellas are often seen during church services and processions; they are usually held over the head of the priest by a church deacon or other high ranking official.

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