Eotcmk.org – March- April 2017
Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus was entitled “the Star of the desert” and “the Head of Anchorites”
Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus [means the salve of the Holy Spirit] was born on Tahisas 29 in 829 E.C; his date of birth and conception coincided with the day of His GOD, JESUS CHRIST. His father’s name was Simeon, and his mother’s name was ‘Aklesya who were righteous before GOD.
They remained childless in moan and prayer for a period of thirty years because they had not got a son. However, later God heard their prayer and gave them this child.
According to his Gadl (Hagiography), the saint was appeared from the city of Nehisa, in Egypt and lived there 300 years in the desert of Egypt. Then, he came to Ethiopia by the order of God and wandered about the wildernesses of Ethiopia. He, then, departed to the land of Ziquala, that later on became the great monastery of the saint and lived there 265 years as if naked and drinking no water and eating no food, exceeding many prophets of old and unlike a man upon earth, but likened to the angels.
So his holy life began and was accomplished, now on the third year of his birth, GOD commanded the angel Gabriel and said unto him, “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 say to the abbot, “Take the child from the courtyard, and bring him into the sanctuary”
Due to this divine order, the abbot raised him according to the Church’s rule, teaching all the scriptures and other religious learning. Later, he got ordination from the bishop called Abba Abraham and he dwelt in the Egyptian desert called ‘Gebota’ [most probably in Upper Egypt] three hundred years.
Later on, he came 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 by performing incredible miracles throughout his age and afterwards and is recognized by his exceptional quality, here are some of his miracles;
on the third day of his birth, the child rose up, and came down from his mother’s breast, and he stood up and bowed three times to the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT, and who also said, “Glory be to the FATHER, Glory be to the SON, Glory be to the HOLY SPIRIT, Who has brought me out of the darkness into the light.”
The saint did not eat the bread of earth, or drink water, or wear raiment and he never prepared anything for his body, but 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 celebrity. 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. Then, the saints felt bitterly sad, and their sorrow was revealed unto our father, Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus. Then after 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 world as well. 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 Megabit 5 /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, of which Megabit 5 /March 13 is the day of the death of the saint), and Tikmit 5 /October 15 is the great annual feast of the saint. The reason for his commemoration on the 5th date of every Ethiopian month is:
The entry of the saint from Egypt to Ethiopia; the day on which he went out from the lake where he received the covenant from God; the day on which he raised the dead lions; the first mass of his church built in his name was also celebrated on this day. His departure is commemorated on Megabit 5/March 13. Consequently his Gadl states that, he died in Ziquala and rested in Medre Kebd.
May the prayer of Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus be up on us!
• ገድለ ገብረ መንፈስ ቅዱስ : 1992 E.C :: (The Hagiography of Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus) 1992 E.C.
• Synaxarium:The book of saints of the Ethiopian Church
• የዝቋላ ደብረ ከዋክብት አቡነ ገብረ መንፈስ ቅዱስ ገዳም ዐመታዊ መጽሔት ጥቅምት: 2007:: (Annual Journal of Ziquala Debre Kewakibt Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus, October, 2007).