His Eminence Archbishop Abune Zena Markos wasborn to his father Mr. Begosew Wolde Tsadek and his mother Mrs. Genet Wolde Giorgis on November 2,1937. He was born in Dega Melza, in the district of Ebenat, located in the province of Gondar, Ethiopia.The parents of his Grace were pious and dedicatedChristians to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo faithand order. His Eminence was a member of an extended family which tremendously helped build and support St. George's Church near St.Mary's of Melza Shumge. His Grace Archbishop Abune Zena Markos was a very bright andgifted child. In particular, he displayed,since his childhood remarkableaffection and love to everyone.
His Eminence started to learn the teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church since his early childhood, from prominent and respected spiritual instructors throughout Ethiopia. By the age of 12, he had already completed the basic Ethiopic tradition scholarship, such as: Psalmody, Church hymnody, the office of deaconate, Horologium under the tutorship of Memhir Alemu of St. Mary’s of Shumge. His Grace was quick in understanding and learning the Church’s teachings. Out of his fervent desire to pursue his theological studies, His Eminence went to St. Mary of Birkuakua to master religious poetry, the climax of Ethiopic traditional scholarship. He also studied the ancient Ethiopic commentary of Sacred Scriptures and liturgical hymnody. Archbishop Zena Markos joined St. Hanna’s Monastery in Debre Sina to learn the Divine Liturgy from the prominent scholar, Memhir Abba Wolde Semaet. Since this instructor was very spiritual and bestowed with God’s grace, various hermits used to visit him frequently. It is worth mentioning that a hermit once came to visit Memhir Abba Wolde Semaet and there by saw the young Archbishop Zena Markos and the pilgrim hermit then asked with astonishment, “Who brought the Seraphim here?”
This was a prophecy the hermit foretold about the extraordinary gift of His Eminence’s unique way of celebrating the Divine Liturgy and glorifying the Almighty God. Accordingly, his teacher Memhir Abba Wolde Semaet kindly advised His Eminence to focus mainly on the Liturgical services more than other areas of studies. His Grace faithfully committed himself to fulfill God’s will throughout his ecclesiastical ministry.
Furthermore, His Eminence Archbishop Zena Markos was elected by His Holiness Abune Theophilos, the second Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and was sent to Greece for higher theological studies and advanced research. Accordingly, His Grace completed his graduate studies with a Master of Divinity.
Ordinance, Promotion and Service:
Upon the completion of his extensive ecclesiastical studies, His Eminence Archbishop Zena Markos was ordained as a deacon by the late Abune Michael, the Archbishop of Gondar. Soon after, His Grace joined the monastery of Debra Libanos to deepen his theological insights and also to enrich his spiritual vocation. His Eminence went to Zequala monastery where he became a monk with the blessings of Memhir Wolde
Selassie. Eventually His Grace was ordained as priest and rendered his meritorious service at Debre Libanos monastery. In addition, he also served as a priest and chief administrator in various monasteries and churches across the country. In this regard, remarkable to note is his extraordinary service at Kulubi Saint Gabriel Church in the province of Harar. After finishing his graduate studies in Greece, the
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church assigned His Grace in its historic monastery in Jerusalem. Soon after His Eminence was consecrated as a Bishop on January 21, 1979, and later became the Archbishop of Wolega Diocese in Western Ethiopia. He served diligently his congregation in Wolega with profound love and dedication for six years. From 1985 to 1991, His Eminence was elected twice as deputy Patriarch under His Holiness Abune Tekle Haimanot, the third Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and also under His Holiness Abune Merkorewos, the fourth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Life in Exile In 1991, the current Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power and forcefully dethroned His Holiness Patriarch Abune Merkorios. For the sake of the stability of the Church, His Eminence Archbishop temporally served as the chairperson of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church from 1991 to 1992. In 1992, the EPRDF illegally assigned its Patriarch, disregarding the longstanding apostolic canon of the Church. As a result, His Eminence was forced to leave his beloved motherland and went to Kenya. He then came to the U.S.A. where he established his Bishopric See at Mekane Birhan St. Gebriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Seattle, Washington where he resided and served faithfully for over 16 years. Furthermore, His Eminence Archbishop Zena Markos extended his apostolic duties all over the world, most notably in Africa, Australia and North America. He
became instrumental to the foundation of numerous churches in Kenya, Canada, Australia and the United States of America. His dedication and hard work is quite visible and fruitful today among all the members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church which are under the auspices of the Legitimate Holy Synod in exile led by His Holiness Abune Merkorewos Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
Absence of a living icon:
His Eminence Abune Zena Markos, Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, fell asleep to the Lord on Saturday February 13, 2010 in Seattle, Washington at the age of 72. He was always grateful for the hospitality given to him by the American government and the people at large. His Grace had always sought the well being of the American government and its people in his daily prayers and supplications.To mention some of his peculiar features, Archbishop Zena Markos was a very spiritual, humble, friendly, and loving father of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He was widely renowned, highly respected and very beloved by everyone and everywhere. He remained a popular figure and role model among the clergy and the faithful. As a devout celibate Bishop, His Eminence dedicated his entire life to the service of Christ and humankind. As per the aforementioned prophecy, His Grace was indeed the Seraphim of God in Ethiopia, the USA and all over the world. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and its members across the world are mourning at the sudden loss of His Eminence Abune Zena Markos, its living icon. We all know for sure that His Eminence will continue to pray for us and bless us and be with us in spirit. May the gracious Lord console us all and repose his soul in peace in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Amen!
His Eminence in Greece.
Abune Zena Markos.
Abune Zena Markos in Kenya.
Abune Zena Markos at St. Gebriel in Seattle.
His Eminence during his last months at Seattle's Meskel Celebration.