Man Single Handedly Carves Orthodox Churches in the Side of Mountain

It’s the stuff that ancient legends are made of, but I guess you could call the story of Aba Defar a modern-day miracle. How else would you explain an old man carving four churches on a mountain side of the Ethiopian highlands, all on his own?

Aba Defar is a man driven by his faith in religion. At one point in life he was a family man and a weaver by profession. But all that changed with a simple dream he had in 1959. The Holy Spirit appeared in his dream, showing him a mountain church carved out of sheer rock. The dream kept repeating itself over the next 30 years, but he never knew what to make of it. It was when he had a vision that he finally understood that his life’s mission was awaiting him.

In the vision, Aba Defar saw a hermit dressed in white and holding a long, pointed cross. The hermit’s message was to celebrate the coming of the ‘Chosen One’ with the Golden Cross. And then, a white dove settled on his shoulder. After this vision, Aba Defar knew that this was nothing but his calling to religious duty. Making a connection between the dreams and the vision, he strongly believed that the white dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, was commanding him to carve churches on the mountain side. After a second vision, he felt confident and so he set about the Herculean task.


“I was instructed by the Holy Spirit to catch a flying eagle,” he says. “It is an impossible task, but the eagle just appeared in my hands.” To him this was the sign that he could indeed take up the impossible. And so, he has. It’s simply mind-blowing, the way he has single-handedly carved out four churches from the hard rock, armed with nothing but simple hand tools. He does suffer, but his faith strengthens him and keeps him going. I suppose Aba Defar is living proof that the even one person can achieve incredible things if they put their mind to it.

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