Feast of Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus

October 14, 2021

The righteous father who is entitled as “The Star of the desert” and “The Head of Anchorites” Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus, was born on January 2, G.C. (829 E.C) from his father Simeon, and his mother ‘Aklesya who were righteous.  They first had no children and remained in misery and prayer for thirty years. However, later God answered their prayer and gave them a blessed child. On the third day of his birth, Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus rose up, and came down from his mother’s arm where he thanked God standing up and bowing three times to the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT, saying, “Glory be to the FATHER, Glory be to the SON, Glory be to the HOLY SPIRIT, who has brought me out of the darkness into the light.”

When he was three years old, he was taken to the monastery by Archangel Saint Gabriel. “Go to the house of Simeon, and take the child from the breast of his mother, and bring him into the desert where there are many monks, and lay him down in their courtyard.” say to the abbot, “Take the child from the courtyard, and bring him into the sanctuary.” Archangel Saint Gabriel then took him to the seventh sky where he was blessed by Holy Trinity and Saint Mary. Then again, Saint Gabriel took him to all the Prophets, Apostles, Righteous, Saints, Martyrs and Monks where he blessed by all.

Onwards the abbot raised him according to the Church’s rule, teaching all the scriptures and other religious learning. Later, he got ordination from the bishop called Abba Abraham and he dwelt in the Egyptian desert called ‘Gebota’ [most probably in Upper Egypt] three hundred years.

Later on he came to Ethiopia by the order of God and wandered about the wildernesses of Ethiopia via Axum in 1129 E.C. during the reign of Qidus Harbey (also called Gebre Mariam), and expanded evangelistic activities in north and central Ethiopia. Then, he went to the next reigning king ‘Lalibela’, said to be in 1168 E.C. to discuss issues regarding Holy Church. King Lalibela was excited and bowed to the saint many times and requested of him to stay with him. But the Saint did not accept the king’s request, instead he promised the king saying, “I will live in mount Ziquala and I will not depart from your country.” He then, departed to the land of Ziquala, that later on became the great monastery of the saint and lived there 265 years as if naked and drinking no water and eating no food, exceeding many prophets of old and unlike a man upon earth, but likened to the angels.

Throughout, he was neither nurtured nor fed from childbirth or wear raiment but lived naked in the desert. However, he was arrayed by his beard and his hair that covered his whole body like a thatch and swept the ground.  He was like the fowls of heaven, for he thought nothing about the food of this world, but he hungered and thirsted for God for his sustenance was offered from heaven.

Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus is known for his incredible miracles throughout his life. For instance, one day the three Saints (Abba Samuel of Waldebba, Abba Anbes of the land of Hazalo and Abba Benyam of the upper land of Egypt) came to the land of Kabd, carried on their lions, to ask and see Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus. When they reached there, they were unable to reach up to him and had to stay there for seven days.  Then a certain lion came to the three Saints and devoured their lions. The saints felt bitterly sad and their sorrow was revealed to our father, Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus.   After that, he came to them with the great power accompanied by his lions and leopards which the Saint rebuked the lions, and rose up the dead lions and sent them away to their former owners.

On other days, during his combat, Satan came to him in the form of a black raven, pecked at his eyes, and dug out his eyeballs. Consequently, the Saint remained blind for ninety-eight years, till the angles (Michael and Gabriel) healed his eyes through their breathing. He lived 100 years in solitude in Lake Ziquala standing upside down praying for Ethiopia and the world as well. He lived in the desert escorted by 60 lions and 60 tigers that served him. The Saint lived 300 years in Egypt and 262 in Ethiopia with a total life span of 562 years on earth and died on March 13. Due to his spiritual struggle, he was entitled with these names: “The Star of the desert” and “The Head of Anchorites.”

The Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church commemorates the feast of the Saint on the 5th date of every Ethiopian month, of which March 13th is the day of the death of the Saint), and October 15th is the great annual feast of the saint. The reason for his commemoration on the 5th date of every Ethiopian month is:  The entry of the saint from Egypt to Ethiopia; the day on which he went out from the lake where he received the covenant from God; the day on which he raised the dead lions; the first mass of his church built in his name was also celebrated on this day.  His departure is commemorated on March 13th.  Consequently his Gadl states that, he died in Ziquala and rested in Medre Kebd.

May the prayer of Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus be with us!

 Source:

  • The Hagiography of Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus) 1992 E.C.
  • Synaxarium:The book of saints of the Ethiopian Church
  • Annual Journal of Ziquala Debre Kewakibt Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus, October, 2007)