Ethiopian Mural of Virgin Mary and Child


Photo credit: Africa Access

Location: Arkansas & 14th Streets, NW Washington, DC

A mural of the Virgin Mary and and child is painted on the rear of Debre Selam Kidist Mariam Church- Ethiopian Orthodox Church.


“By the turn of the fifteenth century other manuscripts, especially Psalters (volumes containing the Book of Psalms, often with other devotional material), are frequently illustrated and crosses are often embellished with depictions of saints and of the Virgin and Child …” (

“When the people of highland Ethiopia began to convert to Christianity in the fourth century, Christ’s mother Mary was not an important figure in the religion. By the middle ages, however, many Christians around the world prayed to her and believed that she had supernatural powers. Nowhere was this more true than in highland Ethiopia. In the 1400s, reverence for the Virgin Mary bourgeoned there and stories about her life and miracles spread. Belief in Mary is still so strong there that some have informally claimed that she is more important than Christ. One can still today hear of her miracles on city buses and rural coffee houses, and see her icon in most any highland Ethiopian living room….” (

“Representations of the Virgin Mary are among the most important iconographic themes in Ethiopian painting, and stand as testimony to the fundamental theological, devotional and symbolic role the mother of Jesus has played in the construction of Ethiopian religious beliefs, identity and cultural memory (

“…combination of saints was extremely popular in Ethiopian religious painting, and served to emphasize the close relationship between the Virgin Mary and Saint George, the soldier of God who was her constant companion” (

Ethiopian Virgin Mary and Jesus. Old Church of St. Mary of Zion, Axum, Ethiopia Photo: Wikimedia Commons


An Ethiopian Orthodox painting on wood of the Virgin Mary  15th century
Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Wall painting in the old Church of St. Mary of Zion, Axum, Ethiopia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons A. Davey



Belcher, Wendy. “The Ladder of Heaven the Miracles of the Virgin Mary in Ethiopian Literature and Art.” Wendybelcher. com Accessed 9/15/2020.

“Christian Ethiopian Art.” Accessed 9/15/2020.

“Double Diptych Icon Pendant

Memory and Wonder. Our Lady in Ethiopian Painting.” Springer  Accessed 9/15/2020.