June 30, 2009 / 3:13 PM / 10 years ago

Ark of the Covenant will not be shown: Ethiopia priest

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The head of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church on Tuesday denied reports that he is about to unveil to the world the Ark of the Covenant that Moses is said to have stored the Ten Commandments tablets in.

Patriarch Abune Paulos said Italian media had incorrectly reported that he would place the Ark in a museum in the country’s north.

Legend has it that the box-shaped Ark has been hidden from sight in Ethiopia since 642 BC.

“I am deeply disappointed that the Italian media misquoted me and disseminated false information about me unveiling the Ark of the Covenant to the world,” he said at a news conference.

“It is a fabrication, disinformation.”

Some Ethiopians believe that Prince Menelik I — who is said to be the result of a union between Israel’s King Solomon and the Ethiopia Queen of Sheba — took the Ark from Jerusalem to Ethiopia while he was in power around 950 BC.

“I would like to confirm once again that the Ark of the Covenant and the sacred tablets containing the Ten Commandments that God delivered to Moses are in Ethiopia,” Abune added.

Replicas of the Ark are in more than 50,000 Orthodox churches in the Horn of Africa country, the church says.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church says it keeps the Ark in a holy shrine in the north of the country. Only a small number of priests can even go near the room where it is said to be kept.

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