The man who found the Ark.

Ark of the Covenant
Image by Cryptonaut via Flickr

Hancock, Graham, The Sign and the Seal, 1992.

Somewhere in the mountains of Ethiopia, the Author talks to a blind old man who is the Guardian of the Ark of the Covenant… And this is the start of one of the most extraordinary adventures of Archaeological discovery that I’ve ever read.

The blind unarmed man is the only privileged one who has the possibility of contacting with one of the most treasured myths of the History of Mankind… Except during the ceremony known as the Timkat, in the month of January, when the Ark comes out in the streets, in a sacred procession, duly covered to prevent its destructive effects over the ones who look at it… That’s why the old man is blind.

It’s a lifetime job, a responsibility that the blind man carries with his heart, and defends with his life. And he is so happy, closer to the Lord. Before he dies, he must choose a successor. The “skills and qualifications” required are ” love to God, purity of the heart, mind and body”.  It’s absolutely fascinating.

The problem, or the “miracle” is that in the country of a thousand churches, there is one thousand arks, each one hidden and protected in the Holy heart of the church, a place where no-one ever is allowed to enter. Which one is the real? Someone said that the most hidden thing is the one that lies carelessly ahead of our eyes. There is no doubt that the Ethiopians are very wise and I’m glad the Ark didn’t end in some military deposit  as it happens in the genial Indiana Jones’ s film (The raiders of the lost Ark, Steven Spielberg, 1981).

It is amazing to think that effectively, there still is an Ark of the Covenant. To believe that it’s there, in Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, devastated by war and hunger, it’s astonishing. But after reading this book, the path of this lonely researcher, his fight against all the bureaucratic difficulties and all the political obstacles, his way through the countries where the Templar knights left their mark, there’s a secret growing faith inside of me that it’s the truth.

But how did the Author get to this amazing conclusion? He started by reading the Holy Bible. The Bible is a depository of wonderful mysteries and historical secrets, sometimes coded, sometimes so obvious that we almost can’t believe what our eyes see. The Bible explains the origins and even the construction of the Ark of the Covenant – its every detail – but there is a point when it simply disappears. Such an important Holy and historical object is left without any reference to follow.  a strange fact or coincidence because, as the Author says, this Ark is part of the very foundation of the Jewish faith (please forgive me if I’m wrong, but everything points that way). Now, the disappearance of the Ark might not be such an outstanding mystery, but the absence of posterior references to it in the Holy Bible certainly is.

Then, he visited the Cathedral of Chartres, a stone book. There, he perceived the unusual presence, among the prophets and the saints, of the Queen of Sheba. What would she be doing there? She had, in the legend, a relationship with king Solomon, as the Author refers from the reading of the Kebra Nagast, and there is a remote possibility of her conversion to the Jewish religion, but in some other documents its said that she left king Solomon’s court and this conversion never happened. The possibility is that, with the conflicts that threatened and still threaten Jerusalem in our days, king Solomon thought that the Ark would be safer in a (by then) stable and peaceful country like Ethiopia. And by strange or not coincidence, the Portuguese, in the time of the Descobrimentos, knew the Ethiopia as the only christian country in the African continent.

This is just a taste of this fantastic book. I won’t say any more, because I don’t want to spoil your pleasure of reading it.

To finish, I just want to pay my honour to the Ethiopian people and to the country, which I knew, before i read this book, as a tragically dry and suffering one, and now I know it a country of outstanding beauty, of “miracles” and mysteries, the country where the glorious Blue Nile starts. Peace be with you.

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