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Abuna of Ethiopia
Since 28 February 2013
StyleHis Holiness
First holderSt. Frumentius (Bishop)
Basilios (Patriarch)
Establishedc. 350 (Foundation)
1959 (Autocephaly)
CathedralHoly Trinity Cathedral, Addis Ababa

This is a list of the abunas of Ethiopia, the spiritual heads of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The Abuna is known officially as Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklehaimanot. The current Abuna, Mathias, acceded to this position on 28 February 2013.[1]

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, and it was granted autocephaly by Cyril VI, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, in 1959.

Bishops of Axum

  • vacant (c. 537–562)[3]

Metropolitan Archbishops of Axum and of All Ethiopia

  • unknown
  • vacant (c. 940–970s)
  • vacant (1344–1348)
  • vacant (1458–1481)
  • vacant (1632–1633)
  • vacant (1687–1689)
  • vacant (1716–1718)
  • vacant (1745–c. 1747)
  • vacant (1803–c. 1808)
  • vacant (c. 1808–1816)
  • vacant (1829–1841)
  • vacant (1867–1868)
  • Qerellos IV (1945–1950), restored

On 13 July 1948, the Coptic Orthodox and Ethiopian churches reached an agreement that led to the elevation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church to the rank of an Autonomous Church; allowing the Archbishop of All Ethiopia to consecrate on his own bishops and metropolitans for the Ethiopian Church and to form a local Holy Synod. The Archbishop, however, is consecrated by the Pope of Alexandria along with the members of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.


Patriarchs and Catholicoi of All Ethiopia

No. Portrait Abuna
Reign Notes
1 Basilios
1959–1970 Reigned during the 1960 Ethiopian coup attempt and the
1965 Conference of Addis Ababa.
Born in Mada Mikael as Gebre Giyorgis Wolde Tsadik
2 Theophilos
1971–1976 Confirmed by the Emperor after his election.[4]
Deposed and arrested by the Derg;[5][6] executed by strangling in 1979.[7]
Born in Debre Elias as Meliktu Jenbere
3 Takla Haymanot
1976–1988 Met Pope John Paul II in 1981, in the first such meeting in modern times.[8]
Born in Begemder as Melaku Wolde Mikael
4 Merkorios
1988–2022 Deposed by the EPRDF, which claimed that he willingly abdicated.
Headed the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Exile from 1991 to 2018.[9]
Entered into dual patriarch arrangement alongside Abune Mathias from 2018 to 2022.
Born in Begemder as Ze-Libanos Fanta
5 Paulos
1992–2012 Reign disputed by followers of Abune Merkorios.
Born in Adwa as Gebremedhin Woldeyohannes
6 Mathias
(born 1941)
2013–present Reign disputed by followers of Abune Merkorios until 2018.[11][12][9]
Entered into dual patriarch arrangement alongside Abune Merkorios from 2018 to 2022.
Born in Agame as Teklemariam Asrat

In 1959, the Coptic Orthodox Church granted autocephaly to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and elevated the Archbishop to the Patriarchal dignity and was enthroned with the title of: Patriarch and Re'ese Liqane Papasat Echege (Catholicos) of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The title of Ichege (Supreme Abbot) of the See of St. Tekle Haymanot of Debre Libanos was subsumed into the Patriarchate. The title of Ichege was revived and the title of Archbishop of Axum was added to the Patriarchal titles in 2005, as Axum was the seat of Ethiopia's first Bishop, St. Frumentius, and thus the oldest see in the church.


Abune MathiasAbune PaulosAbune MerkoriosAbuna Takla HaymanotAbuna TheophilosAbuna Basilios

See also


  1. ^ "Abune Mathias elected as the 6th Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church". Ethioabay. Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  2. ^ Minas according to the Gadla Afse, while Elyas according to the source of Carlo Conti Rossini in Acta Yared et Pantalewon. Sergew Hable Selassie, Ancient and Medieval Ethiopian History to 1270. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: United Printers, p. 116
  3. ^ Due to the exiling of Patriarch Theodosius I and his replacement with the Chalcedonian Patriarch Paul, according to an Arabic source. Sergew, Ancient and Medieval Ethiopian History, p. 142.
  4. ^ "New Patriarch of Ethiopia Is Approved by Emperor". The New York Times. 13 April 1971. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  5. ^ "Patriarch Is Deposed By Ethiopian Regime". The New York Times. 19 February 1976. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Ethiopian Church Ex‐Head Is Reported Under Arrest". The New York Times. 2 March 1976. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  7. ^ Dictionary of African Biography. OUP USA. 2 February 2012. p. 7. ISBN 9780195382075.
  8. ^ "Around the World; Pope Meets Patriarch Of Ethiopian Church". The New York Times. Reuters. 18 October 1981. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Ethiopia's exiled patriarch Bishop Merkorios returns". BBC. 1 August 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  10. ^ "His Holiness Abune Mathias elected as sixth Patriach (sic) of Ethiopian Orthodox Church". The Sheba Post. 28 February 2013. Archived from the original on 8 March 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  11. ^ Kibriye, Solomon (27 July 2018). "Ethiopian Orthodox Unity Declaration Document in English". Orthodoxy Cognate Page. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  12. ^ Dickinson, Augustine (31 July 2018). "Decades-Old Schism in the Ethiopian Church Mended". Ethiopicist Blog. Retrieved 8 August 2018.