Qes Deseta Altah was one of my informants for my dissertation research on Ethiopian scribal production. I took this portrait while meeting with him at his home in Gelawdios, outside of Bahir Dar.
Lalibela, envisioned as a second, African, Jerusalem, is a pilgrimage site in Ethiopia, site of churches cut out of the living rock, and home to a great multitude of priests and deacons, who manage the churches, conduct services, and give tours.
This priest is showing off processional crosses from the treasury of his church.
A sun beam coming through a small window illuminates the interior of Bete Golgotha Church.
Sometimes lumped together with its sister church, Bete Debre Sina into the same unit, called Bete Kidus Mikael, Bete Golgotha is meant to evoke its biblical namesake. Inside, in addition to several bas-relief figures and a symbolic tomb of Christ (obscured by curtains), a narrow passageway connects to Trinity chapel, a place so sacred that it is even off-limits to most Lalibela priests.