Debre Tsion St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church performs baptism for adults at any age after they finished catechetical classes. When the date of baptism has been confirmed by the responsible authority in the Church, the catechumen arrives at the sanctuary early morning according to the Orthodox Tewahedo order of Ethiopia. Deacons fill out the baptismal vessel with water and the priest presents the Holy Meron. Catechumen sits at the middle in the baptismal site accompanied by his relatives. Then the celebration continues as the officiating priest starts addressing the baptismal prayer called litany. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church baptizes male children at the 40th day after birth and women at 80th day. Part of the prayer is absolution for the woman as she has not been receiving the Holy Communion for 40 or 80 days since she gave birth to her baby. 


At the middle of the baptismal celebration, naming and the baptismal vow will be addressed in order. The priest gives the catechumen a Christian name out of the preferences he likes. Then the he requests the catechumen to renounce Satan and confirm his belief in the Holy Trinity by reciting the Orthodox Creed.


For babies, Godfathers and Godmothers or biological parents accept the given name and rehearse the creed on behalf of them. About the end of the celebration, the candidate undresses himself and gets baptized by the hand of the priest. Then, the rebirth ceremony will be concluded by imposition of hands or breathing and unction of the Holy Meron. “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:” (Jn. 20:22).


The Orthodox Churches baptize children under the fosterage of biological and godparents, instructing and entrusting them to teach the Christian doctrine and Christian morality to their children. For the risk of incest exposure caused by excessive intimacy, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church law forbids men to become Godfathers to women, and vice versa. Child baptism is not uncommon in the history of Christianity because the Lord Himself has said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). St. Stephen was baptized with his household (Acts 16:15) and Lydia did the same (Acts 1 Cor. 1:16).



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