The Feast of Abune Tekle Haimanot’s Departure

In the Celebration of the departure of Abune Tekle Haimanot on August 30 (G.C), we shall appraise his Hagiography (Gedle). Abune Tekle Haimanot, Preacher, Teacher, Confessor and founder of Debre Libanos Monastery was a leading Saint, among the many Saints in his time. Born in Zorare, a district in Selale which lies on the eastern edge of Shewa in December 24, 1192, his name Tekle Haimanot was given to him by God, in embracing the plant of the Father, plant of the Son, and plant of the Holy Spirit after his father Priest Tsega Zeab (“Gift of Faith”) and his mother Egzi’e Haraya (“Choice of God”) failed to have children and pledged their firstborn to God.

After the mighty flood of the Islamic storm over the Horn of Africa, only Ethiopia remained a Christian country. During these dark ages, the relentless Islamic aggression and the equally aggressive internal anti Christian element persecuted the Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church with iron fist. In this period of national trial, many Churches and Monasteries were burned to ashes. The Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church took the initiative to demonstrate the resurgent spirit within the nation, in order to encounter the crises and preserve liberty. So the Christian faithful succeeded in restoring the mighty power of the Cross of Christ. In the last quarter of the 12th century, Abune Tekle Haimanot led the Ethiopian Christian recovery.

To revive Christian communities in Ethiopia, he made an extensive journey across the nation and confronted peacefully pagan rulers whom he converted to the Christian faith. Tekle Haimanot’s apostolic mission to the south of Ethiopia claimed great victory with the conversion of King Motelemy. In 1399 during the Reign of King Yesehaq the life and work of Saint Tekle Haimanot was first compiled proclaiming Tekle Haimanot as the New Apostle of Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Tekle Haimanot has served in Debre Damo for at least 12 years. Debre Damo is only accessible by climbing up by a rope, which is made of “plaited leather”, lowered from the cliffs. To go up and down, people tie around their waist and are then pulled up by a monk at the top of the cliffs. It is during his service in Debre Damo that one day the rope snapped while he was climbing down. As God the awesome gives power to his servant, Saint Tekle Haimanot immediately was given six wings and flew around Debre Damo three times. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint is 40:29-31. The numerous miracles of this Saint are well documented in the 200-page text of “Hagiography/Gedle Tekle Haimanot” or the “work of Tekle Haimanot”. On page 175-176 of this text we read, ……. After working many wonders and miracles, Tekle Haimanot was reminded by the Holy Scriptures of his own final journey. In particular reading from the passages of (Matthew 5:13, 5:21, 9:12, Mark 9:50, Luke 14:34-35, 4:23 and Psalms 133:3].

From the time he had became a monk till the day he died, he had not consumed food but was only nourished by water and leaf only on Saturdays and Sundays. He neither saw the sun nor the moon, neither winter nor summer, nor seeds, nor flower, nor fruit. He had eyes but did not see as though he was blind, had ears but did not hear as though he was deaf, had eloquence but did not speak as though he was dumb except for praising God by day and night. He saw the world as though it was nothing more than a dust. As though he was crucified with Christ he affixed his heart towards the heavens. In such as state of contention he lived for several years. Out of the length of his standing, one of his legs broke of its joint and fell off. His disciples wrapped it and buried it under the altar where many miracles were performed. With the remaining leg Tekle Haimanot stood for seven more years. Out of these seven years, he did not drink water for four years. Increasing his labor for Christ just as the apostles preached the Gospel and were tortured, he prostrated till hot sweat run down his fragile body like blood. In such a state he completed his hermetic and monastic journey totally submitting himself unto God!

Abune Tekle Haimanot dedicated his life to God and spent his entire time in prayer till his lost his leg, penance and preaching the Word of God. Due to his ardent devotion, he received six wings by his God like the angles as reward for his broken leg whereupon he stood too long on one foot for seven years. Finally, he died at the age of 99 years, 10 months and 10 days.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church commemorates the feast of the Saint on 24th day of each month of which some are great annual feasts on January 3, his birth, April 2 his conception, April 20, the exodus of his relics and August 30 the departure of the Saint.

Based on the covenant God made with His Saints as mentioned in various parts of the Holy Scripture, such as on Matthew 10:40- 42, on August 30, many believers came to his known Monastery, Debre Libanos which is a place of pilgrimage to celebrate colorfully the feast of the Saint.

Let us invoke the fatherly intercession of Abune Tekle Haimanot so that he may help us to promote more intense prayers for unity, love and peace!!!

• Debre Guenet Abune Tekle Haimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church
• Ethiopic Synaxarium
• Gedle Tekle Haimanot (Hagiography of Tekle Haimanot).