Abune Mathias

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His Holiness Abune
Patriarch and Catholicos of the
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
George Alexander with Patriarch Abune Mathias, Abune Thimotheos and Fr. Dr. Jossi Jacob.jpg
OCP Secretary George Alexander with Patriarch Abune Mathias of Ethiopia, Abune Thimotheos (Dean of Holy Trinity University College)and Fr. Dr. Jossi Jacob (IMOC Delegate and Faculty at Holy Trinity College)
Church Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Appointed 28 February 2013
Predecessor Abune Paulos
Personal details
Birth name Teklemariam Asrat
Born 1941/1942 (age 75–76)
Agame District Tigray Province
Nationality Ethiopian
Denomination Ethiopian Orthodox
Residence Addis Ababa

Abune Mathias (also sometimes Mattias) is the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.[1] His full title is "His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Sixth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklehaimanot."

Early life[edit]

Abune Mathias was born Teklemariam Asrat in 1934 Ethiopian calendar (1941/42 Western calendar) in Tigray province, in the district of Agame, in Sebuha county.[2][3]

Teklemariam was ordained as deacon in 1954 by Abune Markos, the then Archbishop of Eritrea. The then Deacon Teklemariam served in several capacities at the Chohé monastery, in Tembien district of Tigray, where he stayed for most of the subsequent 14 years. In 1963, he was ordained as a priest and monk at Chohé. Now known as Abba Teklemariam, he left the monastery to further his education in Addis Ababa, and served in the Holy Trinity Cathedral from 1971 to 1976. During this time, the government of Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown, and the then Patriarch Abune Tewophilos was arrested and subsequently executed by the Derg military regime.

Following the enthronement of Patriarch Teklehaimanot to replace Patriarch Tewophilos, Abba Teklemariam was appointed to serve as the Patriarchal Vicar to the new Patriarch, and functioned as his closest aide. In 1978, as the Derg identified the senior Archbishops and Bishops with the fallen Imperial government, it ordered that all the senior hierarchs go into retirement. As a result, Patriarch Abune Tekle Haimanot had to anoint 14 new bishops to fill the vacancies left by the retiring hierarchs. Abba Teklemariam was thus anointed as the new bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem and the Holy Land in 1978 and adopted the new episcopal name and title of Abune Mathias. While serving in Jerusalem he was elevated from Bishop to Archbishop.

In early 1980, Archbishop Abune Mathias became the first leader of the church to issue a denunciation of the rule of the communist Derg. Consequently he lived abroad for more than thirty years.[4] He pronounced an anathema against Mengistu Haile Mariam and the members of the regime, and then went into exile. Abune Mathias eventually settled in Washington, D.C., where he presided over an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church made up of exiles who had fled the Ethiopian revolution, and continued to broadcast messages against the Derg regime on Voice of America.

In 1992, Abune Mathias returned to Ethiopia following the fall of the Derg and of Patriarch Abuna Merkorios to retake his seat in the Holy Synod. Following the enthronement of Patriarch Abune Paulos, Abune Mathias was named Archbishop of North America. Later, the Archdiocese was divided and Abune Mattias served as Archbishop of the United States, when Canada became a separate archdiocese. In 2009, the Archdiocese of the United States was divided again into three new Archdioceses, and Abune Mathias was asked to return to take up his former Archdiocese of Jerusalem. Before departing for the Holy Land, Abune Mathias played a key role in initiating attempts to reach a reconciliation between the Holy Synod in Addis Ababa, and the exiled Synod in the United States headed by former Patriarch Abune Merkorios.[5][6][7][8]


Abune Mathias became the 6th Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the election held on 28 February 2013 where he received 500 of the 806 the votes cast by a college of electors representing various sections of the Church.[9] He was enthroned at Holy Trinity Cathedral on 3 March 2013, in the presence of the hierarchs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church (Egypt), the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India and many other representatives of other churches.

Abune Mathias is fluent in Amharic, Tigrigna, English, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Religious titles
Preceded by
Abune Paulos
Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Succeeded by