Gebhre Michael (or Ghebre Michael; Gabra Micha’el), indigenous pioneer of Ethiopian Catholicism. Gebhre Michael was born in Mertoulé Mariam, Gojjam, Ethiopia. A dissident Coptic monk of deep piety, he was impressed by the theological profundity and personal integrity of Justin (Giustino) de Jacobis, a Vincentian missionary from Naples. Dissatisfied with his own church’s endemic corruption and poorly articulated theology, he became a Catholic in 1844 and embarked upon the work which was to be his major contribution to Ethiopian Catholicism–producing a catechism and translating a textbook of moral theology into Amharic. He was admitted to the Vincentians after being secretly ordained in 1851. Arrested by Coptic authorities for heresy in 1855 he died in August of that year after several months of torture. He was beatified on October 31, 1926.
Jonathan J. Bonk
Donald Attwater, The Golden Book of Eastern Saints (1938); Donald Crummey, Priests and Politicians: Protestant and Catholic Missions in Orthodox Ethiopia 1830-1868 (1972); M. M. Vaussard, ed., The Golden Legend Overseas (1931).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from the Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998 by Gerald H. Anderson. All rights reserved.