Classic DACB Collection

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

Afsé (‘Afsé)

Ancient Christian Church

‘Afsé, Abba, ( perhaps fl. late 5th and early 6th century A. D.), was one of the Nine Saints of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church who came to the country as Monophysite missionaries. He is said to have originated in Esya, or Asia, probably Edessa, and his name is patently Syriac. There is a gädl (Acts) of the saint which has not been published, but of which a summary is available. It states that he went from Esya to Rome, where he met Abba Yeshaq (Abba Gärima), who had just abdicated. From there he went to Ethiopia in the time of Emperor ‘Al’Améda (Emperor ‘Ellä-‘Améda II) and remained with Yeshaq for a while before proceeding to the River Geba and thence to the land of Bäläsat. From there they went to Mujja and Däbrä Gännät, suffering persecution from the local peoples all the way. Twelve years later he moved on to Gärima’s convent in Mädära, whence an angel took him to Yeha. There he was welcomed by the people and subsequently visited by Emperor Kaléb. He built a little church and formed a community round him, receiving tithes and the village of Baray from Kaléb. On his death at an advanced age, he made a certain Qozmos his successor. Together with * Abba* Guba, ‘Afsé is commemorated on 29 Genbot (5 June).

A. K. Irvine and Seifu Metaferia


A. Dillmann, “Zur Geschichte des Axumitischen Reichs im vierten bis sechsten Jahrhundert,” Abhandlungen der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin (1880).

E. Littmann, The Legend of the Queen of Sheba (Leyden, 1904).

M. Chaîne, “Répertoire de Salam et Malke’e,” La Revue de l’Orient Chrétien (Paris, 1913). E. A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia (London, 1928).

——–,* The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church* (Cambridge, 1928), Vol. III, 944.

J.-B. Coulbeaux, Histoire politique et religieuse de l’Abyssinie * (Paris, 1929), Vol. I. M.-A. Van Den Oudenrijn, *La vie de Saint Za Mikä’êl ‘Aragäwi (Fribourg, 1939).

C. Conti Rossini, “L’omilia di Yohannes vescovo di Aksum in onore di Garima,” Actes du Congrès International des Orientalistes, Section Sémitique (Paris, 1898).

——– (ed.), Acta Yärèd et Pantalëwöm, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Scriptores aethiopici, Series altera, t. XVII.

——–, Storia d’Etiopia, (Bergamo, 1928).

——–, “La leggenda di Abbä Afsé in Ethiopia,” Mélanges syriens offerts à Monsieur René Dussaud (Paris, 1939), Vol. I, 151-6.

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.