Giyorgis (Abba, 14th)

1300s-1425
Orthodox Church
Ethiopia

Abba Giyorgis (13?-1425), usually known as Giyorgis of Selga (or Gasech) was a famous author of religious books

His father was Hezba Tseyon, a chaplain of emperor Dawit I (q.v.) [ruled 1380-1412], and his mother was from Segla, in the province of Wallo. He was educated in the monastery of Hayq, On Lake Tana. The monastery was famous for its own doctrines, but he later disagreed with them on the question of the observance of the Sabbath. Like his father, he became chaplain to Emperor Dawit, and was the tutor of the royal princes.

Abba Giyorgis was the author of the “Arganona Wedase” (“Hymns of Praise”), the “Wedase Masqal” (“Praises of the Cross”), the “Matshafa Sebhat” (“Book of Thanks”), also called the “Matshafa Berhan” (“Book of Light”), the “Matshafa Mestir” (“Book of Mysteries”), which is a compilation of doctrines, completed two years before his death, and the “Matshafa Saatat” (“Book of Hymns”).

His scholarship at one time won him the position of Nebura’ed (abbot) of the important monastery of Dabra Damo, in Tegré province, and that of head of the community of Abba Batsalota-Mikael in Amhara (now the province of Wallo). But his arguments on the Sabbath made him many enemies, and in consequence Emperor Dawit imprisoned him. He was released from prison when Emperor Téwodros I (ruled 1412-14), one of his former pupils, came to the throne. Although he continued to have difficulties in his dealings with important churchmen, he nevertheless held important positions at court until he died during the reign of Emperor Yesehaq (ruled 1414-30).

Tsehai Berhane Selassie


Bibliography

Tadesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia, 1270-1527, Oxford, 1972.


This article was reprinted from The Encyclopaedia Africana Dictionary of African Biography (in 20 Volumes). Volume One Ethiopia-Ghana, ©1997 by L. H. Ofosu-Appiah, editor-in-chief, Reference Publications Inc., New York, NY. All rights reserved.