Asira Metira

One of Abune Estifanos (Dekike Estifanos) churches, established in the early 6th Century, serves as a religious as well as an agricultural research center.

The Monastery is located 10 km South-East of Atsbi town at Qal Amin sub-district. Like the Monastery of Maryam Dibo, Maryam Asira Metira has a long history. According to the local sources, the Monastery was established in the early 6th century AD by Abune Estifanos during the reign of King Gebremeskel and was very much active up until the end of the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. However, the Monastery was forced to stop its spiritual and social services for years, because of the war and instability that occurred in the area. It was only after 2004 that the Monastery has become again active as a place of major monastic life as well center of church education in the area.

The fact that many monasteries were established during Gebremeskel is not surprising because the king, the son of the legendary King Kaleb, commissioned the arts and the construction of churches along with his contemporaries Abuna Aregawi (one of the nine saints) and St. Yared, the founder of church hymn and father of Ethiopian music. Apparently, it was Yared who first composed musical notations or more appropriately hymn notations for the Tigrai, Eritrean, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Chruches.

Interestingly, as in Abba Yohanni, one can see metal round belles at Asira Metira as well; the monastery is cohabited by monks and nuns and some of the nuns have gone as far as Israel to study irrigation techniques and apple farming methods, and as a result of this monastery now boasts a 5-6 hectare farm that accommodates close to one thousand apple trees; the monks and nuns of this monastery strongly believe in self-sufficiency through hard work as per the precepts accorded to the Biblical Adam and they reject begging and dependency.

Apple is the main product. Cabbage, onions, and other products are also produced. The church also has a diary and fattening farm.

As with any other monastery, although the major responsibility of the Monastery of Maryam Asira Metira is maintaining monastic life and spiritual activities, this monastery ties to solve the socio-economic problems of monks and local communities by engaging in various developmental activities such as engaging in modern agriculture, handicraft education, bee farming in order to eradicate poverty in the locality. It is also engaged in the economical support of the community’s vulnerable members such as the elderly and the orphans.

It can be reached through half asphalt, half paved concrete road through the rugged terrains of Hayq Mesahil and Atsbi, and a long hike through the eastern Desa escarpment.

A cold, greenery and unexploited forest surrounded the monastery. More than 50 monks, nuns, and students live in this church.

Asira Metira is also a school for priests.