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Bairu Tafla

prominent Ethiopian church scholar, monastic head, and first Ethiopian archbishop and patriarch, was renowned for his chastity, his religious devotion, and his unflinching loyalty to Emperor Haile Selassie I rather than for his reforms and/or teachings.

Like most Ethiopian dignitaries, his early life is obscure. The available sources give different years ranging from 1877 to 1892 as his birth date. Similarly, a document of the Orthodox Churches Conference in Addis Ababa asserts that he stayed in exile in Jerusalem during the Italian invasion while Baʿeda-Maryam, who wrote a doctoral dissertation on his biography, asserts that he was a fugitive in his own country. There are also discrepancies in the dates of his early ordinations and appointments.

Son of Debtera (church precentor) Wolde Tsadeq Selomon and Emmet lady usually a widow Wolette Maryam Bayyu Gebre Giyorgis as Basilios was known before he became patriarch was born in the subdistrict of Metta ...

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Bairu Tafla

native Ethiopian Orthodox archbishop of Eritrea, contributed a great deal to the shaping of that country’s political future; his title was Abune (“our father”). He was born in the village of Sesah in the district of Akkele Guzay, where he also appears to have spent his early life. His original name was Gebre Amlakh. In some sources, the names of his parents are given as Ato (Mr.) Tesfazgi Zagiyorgis and Weyzero (Mrs.) Warqu Elsa’e, who from all indications were ordinary peasants. He himself is referred to in at least one work as “a little known priest” (Gebre-Medhin 1989, 113), before he was raised to the prelacy with the help of the Italian colonial administration.

He received his ecclesiastical education at the monastery of Endabba Burukh in the neighboring district of Seraye He also studied various theological fields under well known masters in other monasteries including Debre Bizen where he ...