THE GRANDSON of Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 when he was deposed, was in Portugal recently for a week’s visit.
His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, was here to reestablish Luso-Ethiopian ties.
During his visit he took in sites which his grandfather, Emperor Haile Selassie I, had visited on his historic visit to Portugal in August 1959. He also participated in the celebrations at Ourém Castle, near Fatima, marking the opening of the 600th anniversary of the Royal House of Braganza.
Prince Ermias, who today lives in the United States, is the son of the youngest son of Emperor Haile Selassie, who died in 1975 at the age of 83. He is the President of the Selassie Foundation, created in memory of his grandfather, which provides aid to impoverished Ethiopians.
His Imperial Highness spent his first day here in Santarém. After being welcomed by the Civil Governor on behalf of the Portuguese Government, he was presented with a medal, the equivalent of the “keys to the city.”
Later he visited the Church of Our Lady of Grace, where he was received by the Mayor who showed him the tomb of Santarém’s most famous citizen, Pedro Álvares Cabral, the explorer who discovered Brazil in 1500.
A tour which included the Cabaças Medieval watchtower, the S. Joâo de Alporão Church, Marvilla Church and an archaeological exhibit, was followed by a visit to the Shrine of the Most Holy Miracle of Santarém where Mass was celebrated for the repose of the Soul of Emperor Haile Selassie, who had been killed by Communist revolutionaries on that same day in 1975.
The following day, the Prince was in Sintra at the Sousa Pedro Industrial Park.
In the afternoon, Prince Ermias was received at Sintra Royal Palace by the Duke of Braganza D. Duarte [The Official Website of His Royal Highness Dom Duarte Pio de Bragança], and they went to Cabo de Roca – “where Europe ends and the ocean begins.” The Royal visitor then went on to Lisbon where he, together with D. Filipe Folque de Mendonça, Count of Rio Grande and descendant of King John IV, the first king of the Braganza Royal House, paid homage to the Kings and Queens of the Braganza dynasty at the Saint Vincent Monastery’s Royal Pantheon.
During a visit to Lisbon Cathedral, Prince Ermias prayed in the crypt and received the blessing from the Franciscans.
The second day ended with a gala banquet at Valbom Palace, hosted by the Duke of Braganza and attended by many members of Portugal’s aristocratic families.
During the event the Prince was made Honorary Patron of the new Prester John Luso-Ethiopian Friendship Association – the Portuguese counterpart of the Haile Selassie Foundation – which will help raise much-needed funds for Ethiopia, which is facing its worst famine of the past 30 years.
The following day, to Royal visitor and his delegation of five spent time at Ourém Castle, the birthplace of the Royal House of Braganza, for the start of its 600th anniversary jubilee year.
He was received at City Hail by Deputy Mayor Victor Frazão, the President of the Royal Association of Leiria-Fátima, and Government Minister Teresa Costa Macedo was also present.
The celebrations were initiated with the unveiling of a bronze bust honouring the firstborn of the Royal House of Braganza, D. Afonso, IV Count of Ourém. This was a gift of the American friends of Ethiopia and was accompanied by a special dedication by the Prince to the Duke of Braganza and the Royal Family on this jubilee occasion.
The Mass, celebrated by D. Avilio Ribas, Bishop of São Tomé e Principe, was attended by more than 100 people. During it, Prince Ermias was invested as a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Brotherhood of the Most Holy Sacrament and received from the Bishop the Grand Cross of Saint Thomas the Apostle, Sao Tome’s highest decoration.
A guided tour of the castle included an exhibit commemorating the visit of Emperor Haile Selassie to Portugal in 1959. The day ended with a Royal Banquet at the Oureana Foundation’s medieval restaurant.
During the final days of his visit, the Prince visited Fátima, where he attended mass and at the Capelinah made an act consecrating Ethiopia and the Imperial Crown, descended from King Solomon, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
At the Pope Paul VI Pastoral Center, Prince Ermias was received by Bishop Serafim Silva of the Leira-Fátima Diocese, whom he decorated with the Order of the Holy Trinity and presented to Our Lady of Fátima the Collar of the Seal of Solomon, Ethiopia’s highest Order.
The last days of the Prince’s visit to Portugal were spent at the Vagalha Monastery, Alcobaca Monastery, and Nazaré’s famous Royal Shrine of Our Lady of Nazareth.
At each of those sites where he was received officially by the Mayors, the Prince was surprised and delighted to find people who had toured with his grandfather at the same sites, 44 years previously.