Classic DACB Collection

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

Mikael I

Alternate Names: Mika’él I, Habib
Orthodox Church

Mika’él I, Abunä, was a Metropolitan of Ethiopia, consecrated by Macarius II, Patriarch of Alexandria from 1102 to 1128. He was also known as Habib. During the Patriarchate of Gabriel II (1131-1145), the Emperor of Ethiopia asked Mika’él to consecrate a number of new bishops in excess of the canonical number of seven; this would have given the Emperor power to appoint a new abun *without reference to Alexandria, so Mika’él advised him to approach the Patriarch, and a mission was sent to the Caliph al-Hafiz in Cairo. The Patriarch persuaded the Caliph that the Emperor’s real purpose was to free Ethiopia from the influence of Cairo, and then he wrote to the Emperor advising him against the move. Meanwhile, Ethiopia had been scourged by famine, plague and drought, but when the Emperor sought the Patriarch’s pardon the calamities ceased. Later, early in the Patriarchate of John V (1146-1167), letters came from a ruler of Ethiopia to the *Wazir ‘Ali ibn Salah (d. 1150), asking him to intercede with the Patriarch for a new abun, on the grounds that Mika’él was aged and unable to perform his duties; in fact, it appears that this ruler was a usurper whom Mika’él had refused to acknowledge. Realizing this, the Patriarch refused to comply, since the abun was still alive. Some scholars consider it probable that the usurper was the first king of the Zagwé.

A. K. Irvine


E. Renaudot, *Historia Patriarcharum Alexandrinorum *(Paris, 1717), 510-11, 525-6.

C. Conti Rossini, Storia d’Etiopia (Bergamo, 1928), 303.

A. S. Atiya, Y. ‘Abd al-Masih, O. H. E. Khs-Burmester, History of the Patriarchs of the Ethiopian Church (Cairo, 1959).

E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church (Cambridge, 1928), Vol. III, 800-1

M. Chaine, *La chronologie des temps chrétiens de l’Egypte et de l’Ethiopie *(Paris, 1925), 267.

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.