Ancient bible w/ painting of St. John , Abba Penwolton Monistary, Axum, Ethiopia
The language is Ge’ez, the ancient language of Ethiopia. Today Ge’ez is only spoken by priests and monks and is used on religious occasions, much like Latin in the Catholic Church. The script, however, is the same as the script used today to write Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia, as well as other Ethiopian languages.
This is the first Christian monastery in sub-Saharan Africa. It was founded in the late 300s AD, shortly after Ethiopia became the worlds 2nd officially Christian country (after Armenia.) It is said that the first monk, now a saint of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, prayed 45 years in a well inside the building. Today the well is all that is left of the original building. The present building was built in the 17th century.