October 26, 2017

St. Frumentius, Bishop, Apostle to Ethiopia

Feast Day - October 27th

Born in Tyre, Lebanon, Frumentius and his brother Aedesius were taken on a voyage to Ethiopia while young by their uncle, Meropius, a Christian. During the journey, the ship was attacked by barbarian pirates while harbored in a city on the Red Sea. The entire crew, with the exception of the two children, were slain, and the ship destroyed. Frumentius and Aedesius were captured as slaves.

The two youth were unlike the people of the region in appearance, and as such were given to the king of Axum as a curiosity. He was immediately taken with their youth, beauty, and wit, and installed them as members of his court, seeing to their education, and providing them protection and care. Aedesius would in time become the king’s cup-bearer, and Frumentius his trusted secretary.

The brothers grew in faith, serving their king well. On his deathbed, grateful for their service, the king granted the twins their freedom. When the king died, the brothers stayed on as part of the queen's court. She permitted them to introduce Christianity to the country, and to open trade between Ethiopia and the West.

The brothers used their influence to spread Christianity throughout Ethiopia. At first, they encouraged Christian merchants, who had been recently allowed into the country, to practice their faith openly by meeting at places of public worship. Finally, this led to the conversion of the native population to the one true Faith.

Eventually, Frumentius traveled to Alexandria, where he arranged a meeting with Saint Athanasius, and begged him to send a bishop back to Ethiopia to shepherd the fledgling Christian community. Athanasius, a wise man of faith, consecrated Frumentius a bishop, sending him back to Ethiopia to finish his evangelization.

Upon his return, Frumentius was welcomed back with reverence, and through working of miracles and example, converted the king, and subsequently, the majority of the nation. He worked tirelessly throughout the country until his death in approximately the year 383. The people of Ethiopia called him Abuna (Our Father), Kesate Birhan (Revealer of Light), and Abba Salama (Father of Peace). He is the patron of Ethiopia. His brother Aedeius was also canonized.

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