[St. Pachomius Library]

Eritrea and the (Non-Chalcedonian) Eritrean Orthodox Church

Greek/Latin ERYTHRÆA

Eritrea lies on the coast of the Red (Erythræan) Sea. It has always been inhabited by a mixture of people, with strong cultural ties to Arabia, Somalia, and Ethiopia; it also endured a period of Italian colonial rule. Most Christian Eritreans are non-Chalcedonian Orthodox, and for most of the country's history its church was part of Ethiopia's regardless of the country's political status.

Under Emperor Haile Selassie I, Eritrea was transfered from the failed Italian Empire to Ethiopia, but a strong nationalist movement opposed Ethiopian rule. When the country attained independence in 1993, the Eritrean church, with the backing of Coptic officials in Egypt, declared itself autocephalous. Subsequent relations between the Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches, like those between the corresponding nations, have been difficult to say the least.

Norman Hugh Redington


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