Classic DACB Collection

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

Pétros (10th c.)

900s
Orthodox Church
Ethiopia

Pétros, Abunä, was Metropolitan of Ethiopia, consecrated by Cosmas, Patriarch of Alexandria from 921 to 933 A.D., during the reign of an Emperor whose name appears only in the Arabic version of the story, as Tabtahaj. This ruler is reported to have placed his two sons in Pétros’ care when he died, so that Pétros might select the successor; he decided upon the younger as being the more worthy. Subsequently, two itinerant monks, Abba Fiqtor and Abba Minas, approached Pétros and demanded money. When this was refused, Fiqtor disguised himself as a bishop, with Minas as his disciple, and produced forged letters from Cosmas, alleging that Pétros was an imposter and that Minas was the true abun, while the elder brother should have become Emperor. This Prince mustered an army, seized and exiled his younger brother, and banished Pétros. Minas assumed the functions of Metropolitan. Some time later the two monks quarreled, and Fiqtor went to Egypt and became a Muslim. Cosmas came to hear of Minas’ duplicity, and deposed and excommunicated him. The Emperor had him put to death and asked for Pétros to be restored, but he had died in exile. The Emperor then made Pétros’ disciple abun, but refused him leave to go to Alexandria for proper ordination. Thereafter no abun was canonically appointed until the Patriarchate of Philotheos (979-1003).

Some traditions bear out these events. Tabtahaj is thought by some to be Emperor Degna-Zan, his younger son is identified with Emperor Del-Nä’ad and his elder son with Emperor ‘Anbässa-Wedem, all their reigns falling immediately before the era of the Zagwé dynasty, according to traditional chronology.

A. K. Irvine


Bibliography

J. Perruchon, “Notes pour l’histoire d’Ethiopie,” Revue Sémitique, Vol. II (1894): 78-93.

E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church (Cambridge, 1928), Vol. I, 233-4 (Synaxarium, 12 Hedar); Vol. III, 666-8 (Synaxarium, 3 Mäggabit).

M. Chaîne, 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.