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Saint of the Day: St. Elesbaan of Ethiopia

“Protector of Christians”


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King(ca. 510-540)

His life

+ Elesbaan (who is also known by the name “Caleb”) was the son Tazena and became the king of Axum (a kingdom that covered the areas of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea) around the year 520.

+ Around 523, King Elesbaan invaded Yemen in retaliation for the slaughter of the Martyrs of Najram and other Christians. Following the military conflict, Elesbaan successfully installed a Christian to serve as his viceroy.

+ Because of his efforts, early documents praised him as the “Protection of Christians.” It is said that near the end of his life, he gave his crown to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and spent the rest of his life in prayer and contemplation.

+ In the 16th century, his name, along with the Martyrs of Najran, were added to the Roman Martyrology, the Church’s official listing of saints.

For prayer and reflection

Lord, the king finds joy in your power; / in your victory how greatly he rejoices!

You have granted him his heart’s desire; / you did not refuse the prayer of his lips.”—Psalm 21:2-3


O God, who alone are holy and without whom no one is good, command, we pray, through the intercession of blessed Elesbaan, that we be numbered among those who do not deserve to be deprived of your glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For One Saint)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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