Etiopia

An Ethiopian Orthodox Christian pilgrim leaves the rock-hewn church Bete Giyorgis after attending a mass before the annual festival of Timkat in Lalibela, Ethiopia which celebrates the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, on January 19, 2012. During Timkat, the Tabot, a model of the Ark of the Covenant is taken out of every Ethiopian church for 24 hours and paraded during a procession in towns across the country. Over 80 % of Ethiopians are estimated to be Orthodox Christians. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians believe the real Ark of the Covenant ( a vessel containing the Ten Commandments) is held in Aksum. It is guarded by a select group of monks, whose sole commitment is to protect the sacred vessel. AFP PHOTO/CARL DE SOUZA