Gadla Ewostatewos Acta S.Eustathii

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[pp. 516-518]


(14th century)

Ma'akaba Egzī'e, or Saint Eustathe, a famous monk and a saint of the Ethiopian Church, of the 14th century, went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem about 1330 A.D., passing through Nubia.<ref>Ewōsṭāṭēwōs met Patriarch Benjamin (1327-1334 A.D.) in Cairo.</ref>

Ed.: B. Turaiev, CSCO Script.Aeth. 15, 1955 (with Latin transl.).

T.: CSCO E: 4

Then our father Eustathius rose up to go to Jerusalem... After the Sabbath days had passed, our father Eustathius and these monks went on their way and the [p. 517] Archangel Michael led them. They arrived in the land of Nubia (Nōbā)... When the king of Nubia heard that our father Eustathius was about to enter his kingdom, he rose up, gathered his army and went to meet him. Before leaving, he received news that [Eustathius] was pursued by armies of people whose faith was malicious and full of treachery, and who like rapacious lions, were despoiling his kingdom.

The king of Nubia was a virtuous man and an orthodox; he believed in the Wood of the Cross of Christ. His name in Arabic was Sab’ā Nōl,<ref>Sab’ā Nōl means “the Kinsmen of Nōl” (Dr. M. Ayele).</ref> and, in Ge'ez, Welūda ītyōpiā (the Child of Ethiopia).<ref>Or, more precisely “the Son of the Ethiopian". (Dr. M. Ayele).</ref> His mother was a pious [woman], rich in faith, because she used to receive the needy and poor and the monks who were setting out on pilgrimage to the Sepulchre of our Lord Jesus Christ. She washed their feet and used to drink that water with faith:<ref>A practice still in use [1950] in some parts of Northern Sudan as a sign of respect to Muslim holy men.</ref> in fact it was by their prayers that she conceived and gave birth to this king and for this reason she named him Sab'ā Nōl. After that, Sab'ā Nōl sent one of his officials to our father Eustathius to tell him: "Your coming is blessed, holy father! I have come to receive you. Some people of bad faith and armies of evil-doers have allied against me to put an end to my kingdom. For this reason, I shall return to fight them. Most honoured father, remember me in your prayers: pray to the Lord God that he give me strength and victory over these infidels and evil-doers, whose laws and morals are corrupt. If I come back victorious, I shall give you, O father most honoured, some polished horns and iron [p. 518] trumpets strung with a hide [in which] to wash your hands and feet."

After our father Eustathius had heard these words of the message of the king by the mouth of one of his officers (wa'ālī), he admired his faith and prayed for him. The king set out for the war against the army of the infidels to kill them. They numbered about four thousand.

The king went to battle with [only] four of his horsemen and a man who marched before him carrying the Cross of Christ<ref>Cf. also the ancient Ethiopian custom the “tabōt” (Ark of the Covenant) or “a portable altar” was carried between the vanguard and the king when going to war.</ref> our Saviour. Some valiant soldiers surrounded the king on the right and the left [shielding him] from the last line down to the first. Then our father Eustathius appeared to the king in the midst of a flame, suspended between the sky and the ground sitting on a chariot of celestial light. He came to aid king Sab’ā Nōl who had trusted in his prayer. When our father Eustathius uttered in a clear voice the words: "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered" (Ps. 68, 1), the misbelieving people on the eastern side fled. Then he said: "Accuse my accusers, Yahweh, attack my attackers" (Ps. 35, 1), those who were on the western side were routed. When he said, the third time: "Rescue me from my enemies, O God!" (Ps. 59, 1), down fell those who were on the southern side; and when he said, the fourth time: "Who can compare with you!?" (Ps, 35, 10), those who remained on the northern side were scattered about. The king continued slaying his enemies from sunrise to sunset and took their cattle as spoil. (CSCO, pp. 43 - 44).