Haile Selassie, the “Last Christian Emperor”


Ethiopia was among the first nations to adopt Christianity as its official religion.

The “Last Christian Emperor” is an almost forgotten description of Haile Selassie, late Emperor of Ethiopia. More usually he is known as the “Lion of Judah” or “King of Kings” or “Elect of God.” Much is made of his lineage, which claims descent from a brief encounter between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Despite their biblical forebears, it was the Christian faith that Ethiopia’s rulers embraced. This huge but little-known nation was among the first to adopt Christianity as its official religion, possibly even before Armenia.Christianity was central to the life of Haile Selassie, whose name means “Power of the Trinity.” For the hundreds of thousands of Rastafarians who worship the last Emperor of Ethiopia, his birth name is more important: Ras Tafari. This devout follower of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church never sought the adulation of the Rastafari community, although he was perhaps flattered by it. 

The reason that so many in the African diaspora still worship Haile Selassie is straightforward. For decades, he was the most visible symbol of African resistance to Western colonialism.

These days his memory is a paradox, except for his staunch Rastafarian followers. An autocrat who cared deeply about his people, he could be aloof and paternalistic. A modernizer who didn’t work fast enough for many, he upset his country’s aristocracy with the speed of his reforms. Amid all the praise and criticism, few have ever doubted his Christian devotion. His coronation, exactly 90 years ago, was a scene of imperial Christianity that would not be seen again. Crowned heads and presidents around sent representatives to attend an event that gave the whole of Africa a profile that has never been so high. 

It was not a purely symbolic occasion for the 38-year-old emperor. Throughout his life Haile Selassie made faith integral to his personal life. He had become a deacon before reaching the age of 10, and attended church services almost every day. Despite being an Orthodox Christian, much of his education was provided by a Catholic priest from France. To promote the faith that had existed in Ethiopia since the 1st century, when the kingdom was mentioned in the New Testament, he built an astonishing number of churches. He also built bridges with other Christian denominations, trying to strengthen the faith in his corner of Africa and the Middle East. A typical act for him was adopting 40 orphans of the Armenian Genocide when he visited Jerusalem. They later formed an amateur brass band for a ruler with a rare gift for music. Duke Ellington was one of his favorites, playing for the emperor in 1973, just before he was deposed. It was also one of Ellington’s last performances.

It is seldom Haile Selassie’s religious or artistic accomplishments that are remembered; it is his attempts to make Africa matter. He helped Ethiopia become a founder member of the League of Nations and warned the world about the dangers of fascism before Mussolini invaded his country in 1935. It was not the first time this dynasty had stood up to European aggression. Ethiopia was the only African country to defeat colonizers looking for easy pickings. In 1896, Haile Selassie’s father won a victory over Italy that still hurt Mussolini’s pride many years later.

In the end, Haile Selassie won back his throne, only to be removed by a Marxist military coup in 1974. He was probably murdered soon after, and his remains put in an unmarked grave. No other nations came to his defense. Worst of all, the UK continues to hang on to some of Ethiopia’s most important religious treasures – looted by British soldiers in 1868. Among the few concessions the late emperor received was a gold crown, returned by the UK government in 1924 after the Lion of Judah had presented King George V with two Ethiopian lions as part of a goodwill tour of Europe. According to some reports, it is possible that Haile Selassie is the only person that George V’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, has ever bowed to in her 67 years as monarch. If this is true, it would have to be because the Emperor of Ethiopia was more than just an earthly ruler. Through his Solomonic descent from King David, he was also a living relative of Jesus.



  1. Ethiopia is still a majority Christian country. The title “Last Christian” makes it appear we are no longer a Christian nation, or lead by a Christian leader. People seem to forget that despite his last name Ahmed and it’s important to note Abiy is also a Christian (unlike the fake Trump who employs the Bible, which he never read, as a political prop). Only Meles and Mengistu were Godless communist leaders without any known religion. Regardless of our current messed up politics we are fundamentally and admirably a multi-religious and tolerant society. We should all be proud of that as our most beautiful heritage. Haile Selassie was simply our “Last Emperor”. God bless his soul.

  2. Haile Selassie, the last Ethiopian Emperor.
    The Lion of Judah. The King of Kings, Elect of God, Renowned around the Globe was overthrown by Ethiopian army sergeants; prisoned in a little hut and killed. With him goes the life of some fifty high ranking officials who were murdered in a compound in broad day light. The people of Ethiopia were shocked and consequently paralyzed. The world heard the sordid news and forgot it in a few days.

    And so the majestic symbol of Ethiopia for a period of forty-four years came to an end like a piece of a bag of dirt. The savage intoxicated sergeants ruled Ethiopia for seventeen years and the leader fled to an African country — and still enjoying Life as a honourable guest of that African country.
    Anyway, the Ethiopian people were frozen from the savagery upon their beloved country and aligned themselves to be obedient servants to the savage army soldiers — until God (the Creator of Life) comes back and review the situation in that piece of land called Ethiopia. The Almighty God, having reviewed the matter, replaced the marauder army soldiers (after seventeen years) by a Liberation Front (TPLF). After two decades and more, there was a crack in the TPLF and the present charming young man with a Ph D degree took over without denouncing TPLF. It can be said in three words: THE TPLF GOOFED. They know where they stumbled and will NEVER forget it. How to restore their “power” is something else.

    Going back to the essence of the Article at hand, the glory of Ethiopia as an ancient country with string of Emperors it can safely be stated — and without argument — that the glory of Ethiopia is “gone with the wind” — i.e. to borrow the title of an ancient Hollywood movie. As to the future curriculum of education on Ethiopian Ancient History Class, we leave it to future generation who are not affected by emotional outbursts >>> .’akake zarafiye’.

    At the end, in all fairness, the author of the Article should be commended, full heartedly, for letting us live —very short as it may be — the African Enviable Historical Life of Emperors of an African Country, mingling with other ancient countries on equal footings. The following last lines of the Author’s Article is worth repeating: QUOTE: “Emperor of Ethiopia was more than just an earthly ruler. Through his Solomonic descent from King David, he was also a living relative of Jesus. UNQUOTE THE EN

  3. Addis Ababa is being subjected to Satanism. People should know if a government blames Covid-19 to be the obstacle creating impossible environment to hold an election at the time it was planned, then all of a sudden the same government turns around and asks children to get registered to start school that means the government is not a democratic government, no intentions to become democratic.

    How is school going to be open if election cannot be held?Abiy & Adanech are getting ready to do their demography change in Addis Ababa by subjecting our children to Covid-19. Gadda is planned to be imposed on our children in schools in Addis Ababa to those who survive Covid-19 in school , those who survive Covid-19 are going to get brain washed as they brain washed the “Querro” genociders goons.

    Before I let this Abiy’s version of hate which he calls Gadda get imposed on my children I rather die. We seen what the Abiy , Jawar and alikes so called fake Gadda did to Querro, by creating the worst satanic humans in recent history , worse than ISIS , All Shabab , Boko Haram etc…

    Abiy , Adanech , Jawar , Bekele Gerba , Merira & alike themselves don’t know the real Gadda themselves , first they should learn Gadda themselves before they try to teach Gadda. Their version of Gadda is not the real Gadda, it is fake hateful Houthi Yemeni middle eastern type barbarianism not the real Gadda.

  4. Parent,

    what’s your understanding of Gadda? I am asking because I came of age through it. Just curious how outsiders view it?

  5. የሚያመጣው አንዳች አይነት ጥቅም ካለው፣ ከዚያን በፊትና ከዚያም በኋላ የነበሩት ሁሎ ክርስትያኖች ናቸው!
    ትግራይ በአንበጣ መንጋ የተበላ ጊዜ፣ ጠቅላላው የአለም ህዝብ ራርቶ እህል ወደ ኢትዮጵያ ልኮ ነበር:: ሃይለስላሴ ግን የትግራይ ህዝብ በርሃብ decimated እስኪሆን ጊዜ ድረስ አሰብ ወደብ ላይ እህሉን አስነቀዘው፣ ይሄ የክርስትያን ኤቲክ ነው፟?? የሚገርመው ግን በኋላ ትንሽ ቆየት ብሎም እንደገና የትግራይ ህዝብ ችግር ውስጥ ስለገባ፣ በካርቱም በኩል የአለም ህዝብ እህል ልኮለት ነበር፣ ባንዳ ወያነዎች ግን እህሉን ሸጠው በውጭው አለም ባንክ አካውንታቸው ውስጥ አስገቡት! ለነገሩማ እነዚህ ባንዶችም ክርስትያኖች ነን ባዮች ናቸው::

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