The Two Virginal Grooms of Christ
Righteous give their lives to the “Love of God” ridiculing the world, undermining corporal needs and defeating the enemy. Their heart’s desire is in keeping His will to be beneath the law and serve Him. They crave to be His children and live in His kingdom for eternity. For this, their earthly lives are filled with hardships, obstacles and sorrowfulness. They seek not a worldly happiness, wealth or fame. They give in anything that apart them from their spirituality and in reaching their Lord.
In the history of righteous people in scripted in holy scriptures synaxarium and hagiographies, the story of the two virginal grooms of Christ who departed in the same day Tikmet 14 (October 25) are our Fathers Abune Aregawi and Saint Gabra Christos.
The Ethiopian Synaxarium narrates the story of Saint Gabra Christos as follows. He was the son of Theodosius, Emperor of Constantine. Now Theodosius was a God-loving man and one who feared God, and his wife was a good and God-fearing woman. Her name was Markiza and they were sorrowful because they had no son. They went to Jerusalem and made vows and supplication to God. He heard them and gave them a son, whom they called ‘Abd Almasih, that is to say, Gabra Christos. They taught him every education on the earth.
Afterwards they married him to a princess of Rome and brought to him the bride. They performed for him all the ceremonies, which are wont to be performed for the bridegroom and bride. At midnight Gabra Christos took the bride by the hand, and they made a covenant together. Then they recited the prayer of belief “We believe in one God” to the end thereof. He stripped off himself the marriage-garments, and dressed himself in coarse apparel. He went to the bride, kissed her head and he bade her farewell, saying to her, “God be with you, and deliver thee from every evil work of Satan.” She wept and said to him, “Where do you go? To whom will you leave me?” And he said to her, “I leave you to God, and I am going to follow Christ, for my father’s kingdom is a transitory thing. Remember your oath.” Straightway she was silent and remembered her oath.
Gabra Christos went forth by night whilst those who belonged to the marriage-chamber were sleeping, and he came to the sea-shore where he found certain men who were about to sail. They took him with them. When his father and mother went into the marriage-chamber, they found only the bride and not the bridegroom. They said to her, “Where is our son?” She said to them, “He came in to me in the night, made me swear an oath, and made a covenant with me. He kissed my head and went away from me. I have passed the night weeping.” When they heard her words, they fell down upon the ground, on their faces, groaned and uttered loud cries of grief and lamentation.
The Emperor Theodosius sent out five hundred of his servants to seek his son, and he gave them much gold to distribute among the poor in alms. Now Gabra Christos arrived in the country of Armenia after a journey of one year. There was a church built in the name of our Lady Saint Mary and he lived there for five years fasting and keeping vigil. Two envoys, servants of his father, arrived there, and searched for him but were unable to hear any news of him. They gave alms to the poor, and Gabra Christos himself received some of them. After he had dwelt there for five and twenty years, our holy Lady the Virgin Mary appeared to certain priest and she said to him, “Take the man of God with thee, and let his habitation be inside [the church]”; He did as she had commanded him. Gabra Christos said, “My Lady, why do you reveal my secret?” He bade farewell to her picture (or image) and he departed by night and came to the seashore, where he found a ship in which he embarked.
Now he wished to depart to another country, but by the Will of God he arrived at his father’s city, and he dwelt there of fifteen years and no man recognized him. His father’s servants used to make sport of him; but Saint Gabra Christos said, “[O God] punish not my father’s servants for their offence, but take me ”; Thus saying he died, and they buried him with honor. As they were burying him they found a paper grasped tightly in his hand and they were unable to remove it, and they prayed together to the God of heaven. When they had prayed the paper was released from his hand, and read it. They knew that he was their son. Then they wept bitterly, and they buried him. His tomb became a place where the sick were healed, where the blind [were made to see], where many miracles were wrought and where countless acts of grace were performed.
Our Holy Father Aragawi’s was born on Tir 14 (January 22), who is surnamed Za- Mikael. This Saint is one of the renowned fathers in our country. He was born in the middle of the 5th century in Rome and his parents were called King Isaac and Queen Edna.
He is known with different names. His parents named him ZeMichael (Of Michael) while in the desert he was known as Theodoulos (Gabra Amlak) and in Ethiopia, he is called Aregawi. Though he was a prince and a child, because he was learned in the scriptures, he ran-away and entered a monastery.
This holy man became a guide to the servants of God on the road. He went up to the holy Dabra Damo holding the tail of a serpent, and there he fought countless noble fights. He has established among his children the Rules for the Monastic Life, which he had learned in the house of his father Pachomius.
Abuna Aregawi is one of the Nine Saints that traveled in exile from Rome to Axum to escape persecution after the Council of Chalcedon (451). His feast is celebrated on Tikmit 14 (October 25) which is Abune Aregawi assumption to heaven and celebrated in a pilgrimage to Dabra Damo from all over the country. Dabra Damo is only accessible by climbing up by a rope which symbolize the saint was assisted by a giant serpent to the top.
At his departure, (he didn’t die but ascended to the heavens) Lord Jesus Christ graciously made a covenant with him concerning the man who should call upon his name and the man who celebrate his commemoration.
May our righteous Fathers’ Abune Aregawi and Saint Gabra Christos’s intercession be with us, Amen!
Source: Ethiopian Synaxarium of Tikmet (October) 14