EOTCMK.org– November 2016
Every year on Hidar 8 (November 17), the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewaido church celebrates the feast of the four beasts locally known as ‘Arba’etu Ensisa’. Churches named after these heavenly creatures has been rarely built across the nation. They are four in number and take the form of a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle. They have six wings; are covered with eyes and continually praise God.
Acording to Ethiopian church tradition of iconography, the surroundings and inner door of sanctuaries ornamented by the icons of Cherubim along with the Images of Holy Trinity.
The Ethiopic Synaxarium records the description of the Four Living Creatures as follows:
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God.Amen.
On this day is celebrated the festival of the Four Beasts, who have no bodies, and which are the Wheels of God that bear His Divine Throne. According to the testimony concerning them by John the evangelist in his vision says, “I saw a throne in heaven, and He Who sat thereon was brighter than the sun, and more brilliant then the lightning. And I saw in the midst four beasts, full of eyes; the first had the likeness of the face of a lion, the second had the likeness of the face of a bull, the third had the likeness of the face of a man, and the fourth had the likeness of the face of an eagle; and each of them had six wings. And they cried out by day and by night, saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, God of Hosts. All the heavens and the earth are filled with the holiness of Thy glory” (Rev. iv, 6).
And Isaiah the prophet also said, “I saw the Lord of Hosts sitting upon a high throne, and the whole place was filled with His glory. Seraphim and Cherubim surrounded Him, and His awe and majesty were exceedingly great. Each of these had six wings; with two of their wings they covered their faces, with two of their wings they covered their feet, and with two of their wings they did fly in the greatest glory by day and by night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts. All the heavens and the earth are filled with the holiness of Thy glory” (Isaiah vi, 2).
And David the prophet said, “He rode upon the Cherubim and did fly” (Psalm xviii, 10), and he also said, “He Who sitteth upon the Cherubim maketh the earth to quake,” And Ezekiel said concerning these wheels, “I saw a wind blow from heaven, and in it there was a cloud surrounded by fire, and brightness, and lightning, and four beasts supported Him. Each face (or person) had six wings, and they went before them. And the first beast had the likeness of the face of a man, and they ceased not to praise God by day and by night, and they said, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, all the heavens and the earth are filled with the holiness of Thy glory” (Ezekiel I).
And John the evangelist said, “I heard a voice saying, Hallelujah! Salvation and power and blessing to our God. And the four beasts and the four and twenty elders of heaven worshipped God, saying, Hallelujah! God the Sustainer of the universe is King (Rev. xix, 4). After this I heard a voice saying, Praise our God with harp and psalms, Hallelujah! And I heard the voice of a multitude of peoples like unto the thunder, saying, God, the Sustainer of the universe, is King.” And many of the Books of the Old and the New Testaments testify concerning the honor of these Four Beasts which God hath set near Him to make supplication on behalf of all creation.
He with the man’s form maketh supplication on behalf of the children of men, he with the lion’s form maketh supplication on behalf of the beasts, he with the bull’s form maketh supplication on behalf of the cattle, and he with the eagle’s form maketh supplication on behalf of the birds. Now these beasts are very much nearer God than all the other powers of heaven.
For this reason the fathers of the Church have instituted the commemoration of the heavenly creatures, and have built churches in their name in every place because they make supplication for the race of man.
Salutation to the Four Beasts and to the horses of the Cherubim!
May the prayer of these heavenly creatures be with all us!!
Ethiopic Synaxarium on Hidar 8 (November 17)