Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Abreha (‘Abreha)

Ancient Christian Church

‘Abreha, Emperor, ruled the Aksumite Empire with his brother, Emperor ‘Asbeha, according to the Synaxarium, when Frumentius returned from Alexandria as Bishop of Ethiopia. Ethiopian tradition generally places the introduction of Christianity into the country in the reign of ‘Abreha and ‘Asbeha, while documentary evidence contemporary with the event makes it clear that it occurred under Emperor ‘Ézana and, perhaps, his brother Prince Se’azana. Ethiopian monarchs have, however, traditionally borne more than one name. One hypothesis consistent with Ethiopian custom is that ‘Ézana and Se’azana were baptized with the symbolic names ‘Abreha (He illuminated) and ‘Asbeha (He brought the dawn) when they embraced Christianity.

A. K. Irvine and Belaynesh Michael


E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church (Cambridge, 1928), Vol. I, 112; Vol. IV, 1165 (Synaxarium, 26 Hamlé).

This article is reproduced, with permission, from The Dictionary of Ethiopian Biography, Vol. 1 ‘From Early Times to the End of the Zagwé Dynasty c. 1270 A.D.,’ copyright © 1975, edited by Belaynesh Michael, S. Chojnacki and Richard Pankhurst, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All rights reserved.