Päntäléwon, or Päntäléyon Zä-Soma’Et, Abba (perhaps fl. late 5th and early 6th century A. D.), was, with Abba Za-Mika’él ‘Aräqawi, one of the Nine Saints who fled to Ethiopia to escape persecution after the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) had proclaimed Monophysitism a heresy. They probably found Ethiopia in a state of lapse, but their activities did much to strengthen the faith in its present Monophysite form, and also to spread it in the pagan regions south of the Märäb river. According to his late fifteenth-century gädl, or Acts, which is written from the viewpoint of Däbrä Damo, and contains much derived from the story of the Martyrs of Najrän, Päntäléwon was born of a noble Roman (Byzantine) family and entered a monastery as a child. He came to Ethiopia in the reign of Emperor ‘Al’améda (Emperor ‘Ellä-‘Améda II), son of Emperor Sal’adoba. After spending some time together, he and his fellow saints parted company, and Päntäléwon is said to have climbed a small hill named Bét Qatin, near Aksum, where he built a cell in which he remained for over forty-five years, standing upright in prayer, working miracles and curing the sick. From this he acquired his surname “of the cell.” The Synaxarium names him as the hermit visited by Emperor Kaléb before he set out for the Yemen c. 525 and with whom he became a monk when he abdicated.
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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.