Abba Zemika'el Aregawi was one of the Nine Saints credited in Ethiopia with enculturating and
spreading the Orthodox Faith in the country following its official conversion by St. Frumentius
of Axum. Abba Aregawi is commemorated on 14 T'iqemt (October 24). In the medieval account
of his life preserved by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Abba Aregawi is said to have
been a son of a Roman emperor and to have gathered the other eight Roman saints to himself
at St. Pachomius' Monastery before departing with them for Ethiopia. It is more commonly
believed that the Nine Saints arrived in Axum, the first great capital city of Ethiopia, in 480 and
that they came from different parts of the East Roman Empire, having fled the persecutions of
the Orthodox who remained faithful to the teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria after the Council at
Chalcedon.

In Abba Aregawi's life it is said that the Nine Saints remained in Axum for 12 years before they
left the city to evangelize the outlying districts of the Ethiopian Empire. Abba Aregawi became
known as 'Aregawi' ('the elder') because of his preeminence amongst the Nine. He together
with his mother, who had become a nun, and his disciple Abba Matewos left Axum for a wide,
rocky pillar (much like those of Meteora) to found a monastery. When the monastics could
reach the top of the pillar a serpent came and helped them get to its top, which is why Abba
Aregawi is often portrayed next to the site of his monastery (Debre Damo) climbing to it on a
snake.

During Abba Aregawi's life Debre Damo became a large monastery and has remained famous in
Tigray and all of Ethiopia to this day. Upon Abba Aregawi's repose he was succeeded as abbot
of Debre Damo by his disciple Abba Matewos.
Source: Tsega Tekle Haimanot ~ FB Post 10-25-2017 ~ https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?
fbid=2089513201062460&set=a.1106516392695484.1073741837.100000114026224&type=
3&theater
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