“Another sign of Saladin’s benevolence towards the Ethiopians is found in a Greek source, according to which he granted them, at the request of their king — possibly Harbe, Lalibela’s predecessor –important concessions in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. In Jerusalem they were given the Church of the Invention of the Cross and two rooms near the Copts, under the so-called Catechumens, to live in. The donation of the church in particular must have made Saladin quite popular among the Ethiopians because the feast of the Invention of the Cross(Masqal) has always been one of the highlights of the Ethiopian calendar. In Bethlehem, near the Gate of the Holy Grotto, the Ethiopians were given a place for the divine cult and a part of the narthex to live in. Even if there is no proof that there were Ethiopians in Jerusalem in 1187, there does not seem to be a valid reason for not accepting this Greek source.” Finally, Saladin is also said to have exempted Ethiopian pilgrims from taxation, a favour not granted to the Franks.”
— E. Van Donzel
“Lalibala and Jerusalem in the Twelfth Century”


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