List of Abunas of Ethiopia

This is a list of the Abunas of Ethiopia, the spiritual heads of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The Abuna is known officially as Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklehaimanot. Abune Merkorios acceded to this position in May 1988, while Abune Mathias acceded on 28 February 2013. Currently, both men are serving as Co-Patriarchs, following an agreement made on 27 July 2018.[1][2]

Abuna of Ethiopia
Merkorios (Co-Patriarch)
Mathias (Co-Patriarch)
Since May 1988
Since 28 February 2013
StyleHis Holiness
First holderSt. Frumentius (Bishop)
Basilios (Patriarch)
Establishedc. 305 (Foundation)
1959 (Autocephaly)

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, and it was granted autocephaly by Cyril VI, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, in 1959.

Bishops of Axum

  • vacant (c. 537–562)[4]

Metropolitan Archbishops of Axum and of All Ethiopia

  • Qerellos (620s–mid 7th century)
  • unknown
  • Yohannes (c. 820–840)
  • Yaqob I (fl. mid 9th century)
  • Salama Za-'Azeb (fl. 9th century)
  • Bartalomewos (fl. 10th century)
  • Peter (920s), opposed by Minas and Fiqtor
  • vacant (c. 940–970s)
  • Daniel (fl. late 10th century)
  • Fiqtor (fl. 11th century)
  • 'Abdun, claimant
  • Sawiros (1077–1092)
  • Giyorgis I (fl. 1090s)
  • Mikael I (fl. early–mid 12th century)
  • Yaqob II
  • Gabra Krestos
  • Atnatewos (fl. late 12th century)
  • Mikael II (1206–1209), opposed by Hirun
  • Yeshaq (c. 1209–1225)
  • Giyorgis II (c. 1225)
  • Saint Tekle Haymanot (c. 13th century), according to tradition
  • Yohannes (XIII?) (fl. 14th century)
  • Yaqob (III?) (c. 1337–1344)
  • vacant (1344–1348)
  • Salama II (1348–1388)
  • Bartalomewos (1398/9–1436)
  • Mikael and Gabriel (1438–1458)
  • vacant (1458–1481)
  • Yeshaq (1481– c. 1520)
  • Marqos (VI?) (1481– c. 1530)
  • João Bermudes (c. 1536–c. 1545), self-proclaimed Ethiopian Orthodox Abuna, and Catholic Patriarch of Ethiopia and Alexandria
  • Endyras (c. 1545–?)
  • Andrés de Oviedo (1557–1577), Catholic bishop
  • Marqos (VII?) (c. 1565)
  • Krestodolos I (c. 1590)
  • Petros (VI?) (1599?–1606), killed in battle
  • Simon (1607–1622), died 1624
  • Afonso Mendes (1622–1632), Catholic Patriarch, supported by Susenyos I and deposed by Fasilides
  • vacant (1632–1633)
  • Rezek (c. 1634)
  • Marqos (VIII?) (c. 1635–1672), deposed with Krestodolos
  • Krestodolos II (c. 1640–1672), deposed with Marqos
  • Sinoda (1672–1687)
  • vacant (1687–1689)
  • Marqos (IX ?) (1689–late 17th century)
  • Abba Mikael (1640–1699)
  • Marqos X (1694–1716)
  • vacant (1716–1718)
  • Krestodolos III (c. 1718–1745)
  • vacant (1745–c. 1747)
  • Yohannes XIV (c. 1747–1770)
  • Yosab III (1770–1803)
  • vacant (1803–c. 1808)
  • Makarios (fl. c. 1808)
  • vacant (c. 1808–1816)
  • vacant (1829–1841)
  • vacant (1867–1868)
  • Qerellos IV (1945–1950), restored

On 13 July 1948, the Coptic Orthodox and Ethiopian churches reached an agreement that led to the elevation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church to the rank of an Autonomous Church; allowing the Archbishop of All Ethiopia to consecrate on his own bishops and metropolitans for the Ethiopian Church and to form a local Holy Synod. The Archbishop, however, is consecrated by the Pope of Alexandria along with the members of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Patriarchs and Catholicoi of All Ethiopia

No. Abuna
Personal name
Portrait Reign Notes
1 Basilios
Gebre Giyorgis Wolde Tsadik
1959–1970 Reigned during the 1960 Ethiopian coup attempt and the 1965 Conference of Addis Ababa
2 Theophilos
Meliktu Jenbere
1971–1976 Deposed by the Derg and executed by strangling in 1979[5]
3 Takla Haymanot
Melaku Wolde Mikael
4 Merkorios
Ze-Libanos Fanta
(born 1938)
1988–present Deposed by the EPRDF, which claimed that he abdicated;
In exile from 1991 to 2018[6]
5 Paulos
Gebremedhin Woldeyohannes
1992–2012 Reign disputed by followers of Abune Merkorios
6 Mathias
Teklemariam Asrat
(born 1941)
2013–present Reign disputed by followers of Abune Merkorios until 2018[1][6]

In 1959, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria granted autocephaly to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and elevated the Archbishop to the Patriarchal dignity and was enthroned with the title of: Patriarch and Re'ese Liqane Papasat Echege (Catholicos) of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The title of Ichege (Supreme Abbot) of the See of St. Tekle Haimanot of Debre Libanos was subsumed into the Patriarchate. The title of Ichege was revived and the title of Archbishop of Axum was added to the Patriarchal titles in 2005, as Axum was the seat of Ethiopia's first Bishop, and thus the oldest see in the church.

See also


  1. Kibriye, Solomon (27 July 2018). "Ethiopian Orthodox Unity Declaration Document in English". Orthodoxy Cognate Page. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  2. Dickinson, Augustine (31 July 2018). "Decades-Old Schism in the Ethiopian Church Mended". Ethiopicist Blog. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  3. Minas according to the Gadla Afse, while Elyas according to the source of Carlo Conti Rossini in Acta Yared et Pantalewon. Sergew Hable Selassie, Ancient and Medieval Ethiopian History to 1270. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: United Printers, p.116
  4. Due to the exiling of Patriarch Theodosius I and his replacement with the Chalcedonian Patriarch Paul, according to an Arabic source. Sergew, Ancient and Medieval Ethiopian History, p.142.
  5. Dictionary of African Biography. OUP USA. 2 February 2012. p. 7. ISBN 9780195382075.
  6. "Ethiopia's exiled patriarch Bishop Merkorios returns". BBC. 1 August 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
    Reinstated in 2018 as co-Patriarch with Mathias
  7. "His Holiness Abune Mathias elected as sixth Patriach (sic) of Ethiopian Orthodox Church". The Sheba Post. 28 February 2013. Archived from the original on 8 March 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013.


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