Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus
Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus [the salve of the Holy Spirit] was born December 29th in 829 E.C. His father’s name was Simeon, and his mother’s name was ‘Aklesya who were both righteous before GOD. Simeon and Aklesya were childless for 30 years. They prayed consistently during that time for God to give them a son. When it was time, God heard their prayer and gave them a son who would become Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus.
Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus came from the city of Nehisa, in Egypt and lived there for 300 years in the desert. Then, he moved to Ethiopia to obey God’s order and wandered in wildernesses of Ethiopia before he discovered the land of Ziquala, which became his monastery. He lived in Ziquala for 265 years, naked and without any food or water exceeding many prophets and unlike any man upon earth.
His holy life began on the third year of his birth, God commanded Angel Gabriel, “Go to the house of Simeon, and take the child from the breast of his mother, and bring him into the desert where there are many monks, and lay him down in their courtyard and instruct the monks to take the child from the courtyard to the sanctuary.” Due to this divine order, the monks raised him according to the Church’s rules, teaching all the scriptures and other religious doctrines. When it was time he got ordained by bishop Abba Abraham and he dwelt in the Egyptian desert for three hundred years. He then moved to Ethiopia via Axum in 1129 E.C. during the reign of Qidus Harbey (also called Gebre Mariam) and expanded evangelistic activities in north and central Ethiopia. Then, he went to the next reigning King Lalibela, said to be in 1168 E.C., to discuss church issues. King Lalibela was excited and bowed to the saint many times and requested of him to stay with him. But the saint did not accept the king’s request, instead he promised the king saying, “I will live in mount Ziquala and I will not depart from your country.” He is one of the most renowned Saints in Ethiopia along with St. Tekle Haymanot in evangelistic activities and is known as the founder of Zequala monastery. He is known for performing incredible miracles throughout his life on earth and after his death.
Here are some of his miracles:
On the third day of his birth, he came down from his mother’s breast and bowed three times to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and said, “Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who has brought me out of the darkness into the light.”
The Saint did not eat the bread of earth, drink water, or wear raiment he lived naked in the desert. However, he was arrayed by his beard and the hair of his head that covered his whole body like a thatch and swept the ground. He was like the fowls of heaven, for he thought nothing about the food of this world, but he hungered and thirsted for God; his sustenance was offered from heaven.
One day, the three saints (Abba Samuel of Waldebba, Abba Anbes of the land of Hazalo and Abba Benyam of the upper land of Egypt) came to the land of Kabd, carried on their lions, to ask and see Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus’s status. When they reached there they couldn’t get him and they stayed there for seven days in search of him. Then a certain lion came to the three saints and devoured their lions. The saints felt sad, and their sorrow was revealed unto our father, Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus. Then he came to them with the great power accompanied by his lions and leopards, the saint rebuked the lions, and he rose up the dead lions from the belly of the lions and sent them away to their former owners.
During his combat, Satan came to him in the form of a black raven, pecked at his eyes, and dug out his eyeballs. Consequently, the saint remained blind for ninety-eight years, till the angles (Michael and Gabriel) healed his eyes through their breathing.
He lived 100 years in solitude in Lake Ziquala, praying for Ethiopia and the whole world. He lived in the desert escorted by 60 lions and 60 tigers that served him. The saint lived 300 years in Egypt and 262 in Ethiopia with a total life span of 562 years on earth and died on March 13. Due to his spiritual struggle, he was entitled with these names: “the Star of the desert” and “the Head of Anchorites”.
The Ethiopian church commemorates the feast of the saint on the 5th date of every Ethiopian month, which is March 13 the day of his death. October 15 is the great annual feast of the saint. The reason for his commemoration on the 5th date of every Ethiopian month is because that’s the date he entered to Ethiopia from Egypt, the day he went out from the lake where he received the covenant from God, the day he raised the dead lions, the first mass of his church built in his name was also celebrated on this day. Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus died in Ziquala and rested in Medre Kebd.
May the prayer of Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus be up on us!
- The Hagiography of Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus 1992 E.C.
- Synaxarium:The book of saints of the Ethiopian Church
- Annual Journal of Ziquala Debre Kewakibt Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus, October, 2007
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Sunday school department Mahibere Kidusan