Zena Marqos

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Coptic Orthodox Cross
Note: This article or section represents an Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonian) perspective, which may differ from an Eastern Orthodox (Chalcedonian) understanding.
Abune Zena Markos (1937–2010).

Archbishop Zena Marqos (Begosew) was a senior hierarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church under the Derg (communist based military junta) in Ethiopia and later in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Exile that was formed in the Ethiopian Diaspora following the deposition of Patriarch Merqoriyos by the Ethiopian government in 1992.

Early life and education

Abune Zena Marqos was born to Begosew Welde Tsadeq and Genet Welde Giyorgis on November 2, 1937 in Dega Melza, a community in the traditionally Orthodox Christian province of Begemidir in northwestern Ethiopia. Both of Abune Zena Marqos' parents were pious Orthodox Christians and were closely attached together with his extended family to St. George's Church near Melza Shumge.

The future archbishop was a bright and gifted child with a great love for everyone. From his youth he was raised in the Orthodox Faith and by the age of 12 he was versed in the Psalms, the tonal system of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the divine services. Because of his intelligence Abune Zena Marqos was sent away to St. Mary's Church in Birqwaqwa to study the complex religious poetry (qene), scriptural commentaries, and liturgics of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

At a young age Abune Zena Marqos joined St. Anna's Monastery in Debre Tsina to study the Divine Liturgy under Memhir Welde Sema'et, a prominent Ethiopian Orthodox priest and scholar. Fr. Welde Sema'et was known as an elder and was often visited by monks and hermits from other parts of Ethiopia. During one such visit a hermit noticed the future archbishop serving in church and asked in surprise who had brought a seraphim to Debre Tsina. (Later in life Abune Zena Marqos became known for the beauty and feeling with which he celebrated the Divine Liturgy.)

Abune Zena Marqos was eventually nominated by Patriarch Tewoflos to undertake higher studies abroad and was consequently sent to Greece to complete a masters in theology.

Hierarchical service

Upon his return from Greece Abune Zena Marqos was ordained a deacon by Archbishop Mika'el of Gonder. Not long after this he joined the famous Monastery of Debre Libanos in northern Shewa to deepen his spiritual life. After some time in Debre Libanos the novice went to the equally famous Ziqwala Monastery in eastern Shewa, where with the blessing of Memhir Weldesilase he became a monk.

After becoming a monk Abune Zena Marqos was ordained to the holy priesthood and sent back to Debre Libanos to serve there. He was also appointed the overseer of monasteries and churches throughout Ethiopia, being most remembered for his service at St. Gabriel's Church in Qulubi, a major Ethiopian Orthodox holy place in the eastern and largely Muslim province of Harerzhe. Abune Zena Marqos was later appointed to administer the Ethiopian Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem and shortly thereafter elected to the episcopacy and and consecrated on January 21, 1979.

In 1979, Abune Zena Marqos returned to Ethiopia following his election as Archbishop of Nekemte to serve the Archdiocese of Welega in western Ethiopia. Abune Zena Marqos served in Welega for six years before being elected deputy to the ever memorable Patriarch Tekle Haimanot II. Following the election of Patriarch Merqoriyos in 1988 Abune Zena Marqos was again made deputy to the patriarch, in which capacity he served until 1991.

The long-standing Ethiopian Communist government was overthrown by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in 1991, which then forced Patriarch Merqoriyos to resign from the patriarchate. For the sake of peace within the Church, which in Ethiopian Orthodox canon law does not allow for the dethronement of a patriarch except on the grounds of heresy, Abune Zena Marqos served from 1991 to 1992 as chairman of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as it waited to see what the new Ethiopian government's next move would be.

In 1992, the EPRDF government appointed Archbishop P'awlos of New York as patriarch over the objections of the hierarchy of the Church. In protest to this Abune Zena Marqos went into exile in Kenya along with Abune Merqoriyos, after which he moved to the United States and was appointed Archbishop of Seattle and the Archdiocese of Washington and Australia by the Holy Synod in Exile of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that had been formed by Abune Merqoriyos.

From Seattle Abune Zena Marqos served the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Exile for a further 16 years, frequently traveling across North America, Africa, and Australia to strengthen the spiritual life of the Ethiopian Diaspora and found churches for it in Australia, Canada, Kenya, and the United States.


On February 13, 2010 Archbishop Zena Marqos reposed in Seattle at the age of 72. His falling asleep was greatly mourned by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Washington and throughout the world, which remembers him as a holy, humble, and loving father to his scattered flock.

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