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Matteo Salvadore

Ethiopian monk and intellectual, was also known as Pietro Malbazó, Mlheso, and Indiano. Little is known about his early years, but in all likelihood he left the monastery of Debre Libanos while the area was ravaged by the war between Christian Ethiopia and the Muslim Sultanate of Adal (1529–1543). He traveled to Italy via Jerusalem in 1538, exploiting a route well known to early-modern Ethiopian pilgrims. Once in Rome he became prior of Santo Stefano; his tenure coincided with the institution’s golden era, one during which the hospice hosted an average of twenty to thirty monks before becoming deserted during the era of the Jesuit mission to Ethiopia (1555–1632). Tesfa Seyon used his linguistic skills to develop an exclusive network of acquaintances and befriend some of the most important Roman personalities of the time—among which was the powerful Farnese—who in turn supported both his work and the Santo Stefano ...