The ancient Ethiopian Church had embraced Monophysitism (considered a heresy after the Council of Chalcedon) and then drifted away from Mediterranean Christianity. Attempts to evangelize Ethiopia usually resulted in the deaths of missionaries. That, plus the miserable journey across hostile terrain filled with even more hostile people, led the Eastern and Western Churches to give up on their southern brethren (and sistren).
|Iyasu V: I find no images for Iyasu the Great|
Liberatus Weiss was nominated by Joseph of Jerusalem to be the vice prefect of Ethiopia; Joseph, who was the prefect for the region (a meaningless title, since the Church had no footing there) died shortly after. Liberatus set out for his new prefecture in 1704 with seven priests and three laymen. In Khartoum (Sennan), they were detained, robbed, and sent away. Everyone except Michael Pius and Liberatus starved to death on the arduous journey back to Egypt. Once safely there, Liberatus reported his failure and suggested that he be relieved of the title of Vice Prefect of Ethiopia. Instead, he was promoted to Prefect and told to try again. He set out again in 1711, unaware that Iyasu the Great had been killed in 1706.
|Sets the standard for coats of arms, doesn't it?|
Tekle Haymanot didn't last long either. Two years later, Tewoflos (brother of Iyasu) was on the throne and nephew Tekle was in his grave. Tewoflos nominated Iyasu for canonization, though it is unclear to me whether the nomination was to Rome or the Coptic Church. Tewoflos lasted three years, and was probably dying under suspicious circumstances just as Michael Pius, Liberatus Weiss, and the FNG (Samuel Marzorati) were packing their toothbrushes.
Iyasu's grandson Yostos (Justos) sat himself down on Solomon's throne, ordered the construction of two new churches, began defending himself against conspiracies, and led a very successful slave raid against the Baasa, wiping out the adults and seizing all the children. n short, he was a very successful emperor until January 1716, when he fell ill. Suspecting that his palace had been cursed somehow, he moved into a tent and ordered the demons smudged out with gunpowder. The shaman burned the whole palace down instead. Bad omen. By the end of the month, the Imperial Guards had overthrown him and proclaimed Dawit (David) III the new negusa nagast.
|The Blessed Martyrs, foreskins intact|
Monophysitism (an assertion that Jesus did not have a dual nature but rather a single blended nature) had been the schismatic catalyst between Rome and Gondar, but the trial of these three beati turned on something simpler and easier to prove: circumcision. Being Solomonic, the Ethiopian Church demanded circumcision, but Saint Paul had spared the Romans (and Orthodox) that cut. The three friars refused circumcision (which was not forbidden by the Church), proving themselves heretics, and were stoned to death by order of Dawit III.
I am left wondering whether they declined because acceptance was in some way tied into conceding Monophysitism, a heresy they could not brook, or they just didn't like the johnson being disrobed so late in life. Cut my John Thomas? Or throw rocks at my head until I die? Yeah, I'll take the rocks, thanks.