ETHIOPIAN CHURCH IN SOUTHERN ARABIA
The establishment and growth of the church was not limited to Ethiopia. It was expanded to South Yemen and Nagran. Part of south-western Arabia near the Straits of Babal, Mandab and Himyar in Yemen were known as territories of Ethiopia.
This was confirmed in the insrciption of Ezana (Edna) of the fourth century. This dominion continued until the six century A.D.
Cosmas, who arrived in Ethiopia around the year A.D. 522-25, during the reign of Kaleb (Ella Asbeha), tells us that Ethiopia was fully integrated with international commerce, including trading with South Arabia. She had a strong relationship with Constantinople, India, Perisa and Ceylon.
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From the beginning the Ethiopian church was affiliated with the See of Saint Mark of Alexandria. After Abba Selama first bishop of Ethiopia, died, Egyptian bishops from Alexandria were appointed to head the Ethiopian church. This continued until the time of Emperor Haile Selassie I.
The Turkish Invasion
About 1528 – 1540 A.D Ahmed Gran led the Turks in a terrible battle against the Ethiopian Christians. Ahmed Gran, an Ethiopian citizen but Moslem, was born in Harrar to the South of Ethiopia. Assisted by all forces of Islam, he attacked the country from one end to the other and successfully opposed the Christians.
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After the death of Ahmed Gran there was a gradual deterioration of harmony between the two types of Christians, Ethiopians and Catholics.
Tradition asserts that the arrival of the nine monks was during the reign of Ala-Amida IV in the fifth Century. The monks fled to Ethiopia for refuge from the decision of the two natures of Christ imposed by Pope Leo I at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. According to Ethiopian sources, they did not come as refugees but through invitation by King Ala-Amida to help organize monastic orders and schools.
They made a large contribution to the church in translating books from Greek, Hebrew, Syrian, and other languages into Geez and in propagating the Gospel as well as setting up monastic orders and schools. They came from different regions of the Middle East, mostly from Constantinople (Second Rome). Some writers call them Romans for the simple reason that the Middle East was under the influence of the Roman Empire at that time. (Yesehaq, 19) All these monasteries are very active up to this date and are performing their monastic duties with the exception of the monastery of Abba Gubba, which was burned to the ground by the Muslim Ahmed Gran in the sixteenth century A.D.
These nine monks have been canonized as saints.
|Name of Saint||Country of Origin||Monastery or Church|
|Abba Pantelewon||Constantinople||Founded church on the high mountains near Axum|
|Abba Likanos||Constantinople||Founded Debra Quanasel Monastery, near Axum|
|Abba Gerima||Constantinople||Founded Madara Adua Monastery|
|Abba Gubba||Chelsea or Cilicia||Founded Endabaguba Monastery, near Adua|
|Abba Aragawi||Constantinople||Founded Debre Damo Monastery, between Adua and Addi Grate|
|Abba Afese||Asia Minor||Founded Yeha Monastery, near Adua|
|Abba Tsehma||Antioch||Founded Sedenya Monastery, near Adua|
|Abba Alef||Caesarea||Founded Behnsa Monastery|
|Abba Yemata||Cosia or Cooz||Founded Geralta Monastery|
Church in South Arabia
Ethiopia's ambassadors were held in such high esteem that in Persia they succeeded in securing the release of a bishop
who had been imprisoned. She traded by way of the Red Sea and by the great caravan routes that went up to Egypt or North Yemen toward Mesopotamia. Some of Ethiopia's chief exports then were cattle, iron and salt which were exchanged for gold.
Her greatest product was coinage, which was also popular during the reign of Ezana: "...Axum and Adulis towns were overwhelmed with commerce, swarming with merchants of every nationality, Greeks, Syrians, Indians, Persians and Armenians."
Along with this commercial and political development, Christianity also was begining to grow in South Arabia. Churches were established by Ethiopian Emperors and Constantine II. However it is said that Christianity was first introduced to this land by Famiwom, a Syrian born preacher.
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