“Like all those possessing a library, Aurelian was aware that he was guilty of not knowing his in its entirety.”
The Theologians, Jorge Luis Borges
It rests that as soon as a book is launched into the world, be it from the flat topped amba of Mount Abora, a multitude of overlooked works immediately begin to form a perilously high tower of their own.
Here then, after the canon of Ethiopia through writers’ eyes, the apocrypha:
Saint Elesbaan (Kaleb), King of Ethiopia and Saint Efigênia
Saint Kaleb and Saint Ifêgenia are the patron saints of a number of churches throughout Latin America. Their popular following mingle elements of Catholic devotion and African culture, in particular in Bresil and Peru. Saint, or King, Kaleb harks from Axum while Saint Ifegênia’s origins in ‘Ethiopia’ are related in a number of conflicting accounts, in which Ethiopia is at times situated in Africa, while at others the country is said to be ‘south of the Caspian sea.’
The Austrian Jesuit Francis Xavier Weninger (recounting the Acts of Saint Matthew), tells of Saint Ephigênia:
“…Incontestable writings prove that he [Matthew] preached the Gospel for twenty-three years, partly in Ethiopia, partly in other countries, at the same time founding almost innumerable Churches, and supplying them with priests and bishops, in order to preserve the faith he had taught… …Iphigênia, the eldest daughter of the newly converted king of Ethiopia, had not only become a Christian, but also, with the knowledge and consent of the holy Apostle, had consecrated her virginity to the Almighty, after having frequently heard the Saint preach on the priceless value of purity, and exhort others to guard and preserve it.
While the Archbishop of Baltimore tells us in The Roman Martyrology that:
“In Ethiopia, St. Elesbaan, king, who, after having defeated the enemies of Christ and sent his royal diadem to Jerusalem, in the time of the emperor Justin, led a monastical life, as he had vowed, and went to his reward.”
(Saint Ifegênia’s life is recounted in the Golden Legend, or Readings of the Saints, compiled by Jacques de Voragine in 1260 in Italy, but it should be underlined that while Saint Kaleb (or ካሌብ እለ አጽብሐ) is listed in the Ethiopian Synaxaria, Saint Ifegênia is conspicuously absent.)