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Abune Tobia Giorgis Gebregziabeher

Historical Perspectives

Brief Summary of the past

The Eighteenth Cntury


Abune Tobia Giorgis Gebregziabeher

Abba Tobia was born in 1755 at Kemkem, (just north of Addis Zemen) in Dembiya. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and then continued to Rome visiting the tombs of the Apostles. Between 1782 and 1788 he was registered as a student at the "Collegio Urbano".

Abuna Tobia embarked at Suez for Ethiopia in the same month as the fall of the Bastille in Paris. Since that event is considered as marking the beginning of modern history, Abuna Tobia deserves the honorific title of being the first African Catholic bishop of modern times.

Furthermore, in 1815 when the Propagation of the Faith considered renewing the mission to Ethiopia the candidate originally proposed for that task was an Ethiopian deacon, Giorgis, who had been ordained a deacon by Abuna Tobia. In 1816 he was ordained a priest in Rome and died there in 1841, two years after the arrival in Adwa of Mgr J. de Jacobis. These dates lead us to suggest that Abba Giorgis was the link between Abuna Tobia and Mgr J. de Jacobis. In fact it is more than likely that he contributed to Pope Gregory XVI's decision in 1839 to send an apostolic delegation to Ethiopia, the country of his origin.



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