Veneration of Saints

by Like Kahinat Birhanu Gebreamanuel


We can divide Holiness in to two:

  1. Natural Holiness
  2. Gifted Holiness

Natural Holiness is Holiness that belongs only to God. Gifted Holiness is Holiness that given for heavenly Angeles and earthly humans by God, when they found proper for this honor. Specials humans became Holy when they serve God with a stable faith, good deed, and sincerity. Because in the Bible it said, “you shall be holy, for I your God am Holy” (Lev.19:2).

Considering their accomplishment in spiritual activities, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church gave the honor of Holiness for many foreign and native personalities. In addition the Church made them to be remembered by building a church, founding a monastery, and engraving a tablet [of law] in their name. Since it is difficult to discuss the biography and activity of all foreign and local saints with such short article, we shall discus only the selected ones.

Native Saints

  1. Eunuch of Candace Queen of Ethiopia

Christianity was introduced to Ethiopia or in other words Christianity and Ethiopia were acquainted each other, as the apostle Luke reported in the Acts (8:26-40), when the Ethiopian Eunuch went to Jerusalem and was baptized by the apostle philip. The Eunuch went there to worship God based on the Old Testament practices, and there by God’s angel directed philip to go towards Gaza and meat the Eunuch. The Apostle met the Ethiopian, preached him the Gospel, baptized him with his request and was caught away by the Spirit of God. This episode happened in 34AD.

Based on the report of St. Luke, Eusabious, who is called Father of the Church, said: “The Eunuch became an apostle for his people”.

  1. Holy Kings Abrha and Asbaha

After leading Ethiopia together for about Fifteen years, brother Kings Abrha and Asbaha divided the country into two and proceed leading separately. Abrha built his palace in Axume and Asbaha in Sawa in a place called Aerar.

Considering their contribution for the Church and the country as a whole, the Ethiopian church gave them the honor of holiness and built a church in their name. Their memorial feast is celebrated on October 14th, monthly and annually.

  1. King Kaleb

Among kings reigned nest to Abrha and Asbaha, King Kalev (r.492-522) is the leading in expanding and cherishing the church. After contributing a lot for the development of Christianity, he abdicated his throne to his son king GabraMassqal and began a hermetic life in the monastery of Abba Pantalewon, located in Northeast of Axum, He lived for about twelve years as a hermit and died in May 28,543 AD. Since he was a king fulfilled the example of saints in his monastic and hermetic life, the Ethiopian Church count him among saint.

  1. Abba Yohani

The Birthplace of the fourth century saint Abba Yohani is in tagray region, Tanben district, in a place specifically called Hagara Salam. His hagiography reported that he lived with Abba Amony, who was living in fasting and prayer in the desert called DabaraAnsa (Asa), in Tanben, and that he did not grew by sucking his mother’s breast rather an animal called Tora suckle him and bring him up. His monastery is called DabraAnsa (Asa) and the saint’s monthly and annual fist is celebrated on November 14.

  1. Saint Yared

Saint Yared was a six-century Ethiopian Scholar. He was a church song composer, Qane (religious poetry) schloar, and expert of Old Testament, New Testament and books of Scholars. He has songbooks called Daggawa, Zamare, mawas‛at and ma‛araf. By selecting appropriate readings for prayer and chanting from the Old Testament, New Testament and books of Scholars, he composed songs for four seasons of a year – Madaw (Spring), Hagay (Summur), Saday (harvest Season) and Karamt (Winter). He sang his songs in three Stiles called Ga’az, эzl and Araray.

Saint Yared composed his songs with in the years 547-567 AD. For about eleven years he taught and served the church in the northern part of the country. At last he joined one of the monasteries found on the foot of northern mountains and spent the rest of his life in prayer, fasting and hermitic life. Since he contributed a long lived but still popular song for the church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has built a Church in his name and written his hagiography, and celebrates the day of his rest yearly on May 19.

  1. other

A Saint YamrahanaKratros

  1. Saint Harbe
  2. Saint Lalibala
  3. Saint Na’akutoLa’ab

Those Saintly kings lived in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. During their time they incorporated kingship with priesthood and contributed a lot to the expansion of Christianity, development of the church and unity of the state. For these, the rock hewn churches, which are the main tourist attractions and income generators of the country, are witnesses. The mother church gave them the status of holiness.


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