Getting in touch with hunger and poverty – beginning of the period of fasting in Ethiopia
Since four years, the chapel of the Sisters of the Franciscan Sisters in Addis Ababa presents a “Lenten Towel” which can be seen not only during the very strict period of fasting (lent, starting these days) but all year round.
The almost thousand-year-old tradition of showing a “Lenten Towel” in the period of fasting was rediscovered and revitalized in Switzerland and in Germany, starting with a work from India in 1976, followed by a work of the Ethiopian artist Alemayhu Bizuneh in 1978. And this tradition continues with us.
As a gift to the sisters in Addis Ababa for the received hospitality, Peter Bachmann has experienced in the years before, he was looking for the “Lenten Lowel” designed by Alemayhu Bizuneh, which hung in all churches in Switzerland 40 years ago. Despite some efforts he unfortunately could not find that specific copy showing Ethiopian representations, neither in Switzerland nor in Germany, but could find another ancient Lenten towel and gave the painting copy to the nuns.
A lot can be read about the name and the deeper meaning in the Middle Ages ("covering up the mystery"), the rich illustration as Biblia pauperum to the vivid proclamation. Toni Bernet-Strahm writes in order to reach some understanding in these days: “It is about the dialogue between the rich and the poor churches in the context of different religions and cultures. Lent should, in a completely new sense, be a time of atonement, a rediscovery of what the Christian message means today: Sharing with one another both material gifts (development cooperation) and spiritual experiences and impulses." (Toni Bernet-Strahm at the Opening of the Hunger Towel Exhibition" Getting in Touch with Hunger and Poverty on February 13th 2013 in Balzers)