Saint Gebra Manfas Qeddus

Gabra Sellase Abdi Waldamaryam (Ethiopian, early 1900s-1986)
Circa 1970
Paint on cardboard, cotton thread
Work : 14 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (36.2 x 24.13 cm)
Mat : 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.64 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Neal and Elizabeth Sobania
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Gebre Manfas Qeddus was an Egyptian monk who came to Ethiopia sometime around the 14th or 15th century and founded the monastery of Zuqualla in today’s Amhara region. Tradition says that Gebre Manfas Qeddus spent many years living as a hermit in the desert and that during this time his hair and beard grew so long that he was able to wear the hair as a robe. He is also said to have befriended lions and leopards while living in the desert, and that these normally fierce animals were transformed into peaceful companions by the saint’s holy power. Gebre Manfas Qeddus is typically portrayed with both arms raised in prayer. Here he holds a cross in one hand and a bird in the other. The bird refers to a story in which the saint rescues a bird that is dying of thirst by allowing it to drink fluid from his eye.

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