The old history of Christianity in Ethiopia

Meanwhile, a hundred years before St. Patrick arrived in Ireland…

With a Christian monarchy established within a decade or two of the baptism of Constantine the Great, and a first bishop consecrated by the Church father Athanasius not later than 350 AD, the evangelization of Ethiopia proceeded from north to south. This was mainly the result of indigenous efforts, supported in the early stages by Syrian monks who were rufugees rather than representatives of a sending Church. By 1500 the Christian message had been preached in most of present-day Ethiopia. Churches and monasteries had been built as far south as Arsi, Sidamo and Kefa. Some areas were again lost to Islam, by and large – as far as we know – through commercial penetration. Pagan practices and worship undoubtedly survived and reasserted themselves, overtly or in secret, as they did in Europe. On the other hand, a literate, ecclesiastical elite had not only translated the Bible and other early Christian literature into Gi’iz but also produced additional edifying literature, as well and legal and historical texts. There can be no doubt that by 1500 Christianity had deep roots in Ethiopian society, in the north and central parts in particular.

-Sven Rubenson summarizing Taddesse Tamrat, from Church and State in Ethiopia 1270-1527