(died ca. 383)
Feastday: October 27
Called “Abuna” or “the father” of Ethiopia, St. Frumentius was sent to
that land by St. Athanasius. Frumentius was born in Tyre, Lebanon. While
on a voyage in the Red Sea with St. Aedesius, possibly his brother, only
Frumentius and Aedesius survived the shipwreck. Taken to the Ethiopian
royal court at Aksum, they soon attained high positions. Aedesius was
royal cup bearer, and Fruementius was a secretary. They introduced
Christianity to that land. When Abreha and Asbeha inherited the Ethiopian
throne from their father, Frumentius went to Alexandria, Egypt, to ask
St. Athanasius to send a missionary to Ethiopia. He was consecrated a
bishop and converted many more upon his return to Aksum. Frumentius and
Aedesius are considered the apostles of Ethiopia.
Excerpted from Uncovered for Christ
Edesius and Frumentius, brothers from Tyre, Phoenician, introduced
Christianity into Abyssinia; the latter a saint and first Bishop of Axum
is styled the Apostle of Abyssinia, d. about 383.
When still mere boys, they accompanied their uncle Metropius on a voyage
to Abyssinia. When their ship stopped at one of the harbor of the Red
Sea, people of the neighborhood massacred the whole crew, with the
exception of Edesius and Frumentius, who were taken as slaves to the King
of Axum. This occurred about 316. The two boys soon gained the favor of
the king, who raised them to positions of trust and shortly before his
death gave them their liberty.
The widowed queen, however, prevailed upon them to remain at the court
and assist her in the education of the young prince Erazanes and in the
administration of the kingdom during the prince's minority. They remained
and (especially Frumentius) used their influence to spread Christianity.
First, they encouraged the Christian merchants, who were temporarily in
the country, to practice their faith openly by meeting at places of
public worship; later, they also converted some of the natives.
When the prince came of age, Edesius returned to his friends and
relatives at Tyre and was ordained priest, but did not return to
Abyssinia. Frumentius, on the other hand, who was eager for the
conversion of Abyssinia, accompanied Edesius as far as Alexandria, where
he requested St. Athanasius to send a bishop and some priests to
Abyssinia. St. Athanasius considered Frumentius himself the most suitable
person for bishop and consecrated him in 328, according to others between
Frumentius returned to Abyssinia, erected his episcopal see at Axum,
baptized King Aeizanas, who had meanwhile succeeded to the throne, built
many churches, and spread the Christian Faith throughout Abyssinia. The
people called him Abuna (Our Father) or Abba Salama (Father of Peace),
titles still given to the head of the Abyssinian Church.
In 365 Emperor Constantius addressed a letter to King Aeizanas and his
brother Saizanas in which he vainly requested them to substitute the
Arian bishop Theophilus for Frumentius (Athanasius, "Apol. ad
Constantium" in P.G., XXV, 631).
The Latins celebrate the feast of Frumentius on 27 October, the Greeks on
30 November, and the Copts on 18 December.
Abyssinian tradition credits him with the first Ethiopian translation of
the New Testament.
Excerpted from the Catholic Encyclopedia