(ABUNA, ABBA SALAMA)
(died about 383 A.D.)
Frumentius was also known as Abuna which is the title for the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and by Abba Salama, the name which he took at his ordination, which means “Father of Peace.”
Saint Frumentius reminds us that, when we volunteer an idea, God may want us to carry it through.
Frumentius was born in Tyre in what is now Lebanon but which was then in the Eastern Roman Empire. Frumentius and his brother Edesius were taught about Jesus from their parents. About the year 316, they accompanied their uncle on a voyage to Ethiopia, but at one harbor on the Red Sea, local people killed the entire crew. They spared the two boys but brought as slaves to the King of Axum, an ancient kingdom in what is now Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. The king liked the boys and raised them to positions of trust, freeing them from slavery shortly before his death. The queen, however, persuaded them to stay and help educate the young heir to the throne. They remained, using their influence to not only teach the youngster but also to spread Christianity. Initially, they persuaded Christian merchants to practice their faith openly without fear and assisted them in finding places to pray. They also converted some Ethiopian people to Christianity.
When the prince became old enough to be King, Edesius and Frumentius left. Edesius went to Tyre where he was ordained a priest, but Frumentius stayed in Alexandria where he asked the Patriarch (Bishop) to send a bishop and some priests to Ethiopia. The Patriarch thought that Frumentius would do well, so he consecrated him bishop.
Surprised but eager to be obedient to God’s Will, Frumentius returned to Ethiopia where he became bishop of Axum. He then spoke to, converted and baptized the King whom he had helped educate. The King built many churches and supported Frumentius in spreading faith in Jesus throughout Ethiopia. Frumentius established the first monastery in the country and was highly respected by the Christians who called him Kesate Birhan which means “Revealer of Light.”
Some years later, the emperor wrote to the King and his brother, asking them to replace Frumentius with a bishop who promoted false teachings. The brothers refused, allowing Frumentius to remain to translate the New Testament into the people’s language and to develop a system of writing for them.
May Saint Frumentius help us to say “yes” to God’s Will.