Saint Yared and King Gebrameskel
Haleqa Hailu GebraMedhin (Ethiopian, b. 1959)
MediumPaint on cloth
DimensionsWork : 34 1/2 x 66 1/2 in. (87.63 cm x 1.7 m)
Credit LineGift of Neal and Elizabeth Sobania
LabelSaint Yared was a 6th century priest and musician who is credited with creating Ethiopia’s sacred music traditions. He is said to have drawn inspiration for his music by listening to birds—he is often portrayed with three birds representing the Holy Trinity—and by observing the changing seasons. This painting portrays a legend in which Saint Yared and his patron, King GebreMeskel, were so caught up in one of Yared’s musical performances that neither of them noticed when the king dropped his spear and it pierced the saint’s foot. Paintings of this story are often found in the narthexes of Ethiopian churches where deacons still perform some of the music written by Saint Yared almost 1500 years ago. Haleqa Hailu GebreMedhin is a deacon in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Highly respected for his religious learning, Haleqa Hailu has received commissions to paint multi-canvas murals for at least twenty churches in Tigray and Gojjam provinces.