Kristos Samra

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Saint Christos Samra
Wings are signs of Saintilyhood achievement
Intercede to God for humans
Bornin the 15th century
Father's nameDersany
Mother's nameEleny
FeastNahasse 24 (August 30th
venerated inEthiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Coptic Church

Kristos Samra or Christos Samra (Ge'ez: ክርስቶስ፡ሠምራ, Krəstos Śämra, meaning “Christ Delights in Her") (c. 15th century) was an Ethiopian female saint who founded a monastery of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. She is one of Ethiopia's over two-hundred indigenous saints[1] and one of the earliest of about fourteen Ethiopian female saints.

[2] She lived in the 15th century, according to the Gädlä Krəstos Śämra (The Life of Kristos Samra), a hagiography written about her around 1508.[3] Her monastery's festival in her honor on her saint's day, 24 Nahase (August 30), draws thousands every year.


Kristos Samra lived in the 15th century (no exact dates of her birth or death appear in her hagiography).[4] According to her hagiography, the only contemporaneous source on her life, she was born into a wealthy and pious family from a frontier province in the Christian Ethiopian empire and married to the son of the emperor’s own priest (priests can be married in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church). She gave birth to eight sons and two daughters. When she was around forty years old, one day she became enraged with a maidservant who wound't want to behave decently and cursed her and the maidservant died.[5] Then Kristos Samra felt terrible and guilty and prayed for God to restore the life of the maidservant fortunatly her prayer was answered and the maid was alive again. So kristos Samra was amazed she felt "if God hears my prayer while I'm in this worldly life how much will he answer my prayer in monastry?"and decided to be a nun and started her journey to a spiritual life. But when she arrived at the monastry, they told her that no males were allowed into the nunnery because she was traveling with the maidservant who was carrying her baby son and insisted to be with Kristos Samra when she headed to the monastry. So the child was taken by The Archangel St.Michael to Haven as her hagiography tells [1] or another nun saved the boy and raised him.[3]

Kristos Samra spent two years as a novice before becoming a nun. She then left for Lake Tana, a place known for its many monasteries and ascetic monks and nuns, to live the life of a hermit. As her first remarkable act, she spent twelve years praying while standing several hours a day in the shallow waters of the lake near the shore, an act common among devout Ethiopians. Living in solitude, she moved around the lake, staying at monasteries, including Narga Sellase and Tana Qirqos. During this period, she had visions, speaking with angels and saints as well as Christ and his mother the Virgin Mary. In her most well-known vision, she travelled to heaven and hell to plead with Christ and Satan to reconcile themselves to each other so that human beings would no longer suffer due to their enmity.[2][3] Some scholars, such as Ephraim Isaac, consider her to be one of the first female philosophers in Ethiopia, and many other countries.[6][7] Her contemporary, Zara Yacob of 17th century Ethiopia is also seen as the first philosopher of Ethiopia, and Africa.[7]

Then the biblical Patriarchs came to her in a dream and told her to settle at Gʷangut, located on the southwestern end of Lake Tana. They told her that the entire world would come there to prostrate themselves at her feet. In response, she gave up the life of a hermit and founded a monastery.[8] A monk named Yəsḥaq (Isaac) helped her by building a church, training female novices, and celebrating the liturgy. Eventually, she withdrew once again into solitude, standing in a pit for three years and in the lake for another three years.[3]

Before she died, she told a scribe named Filəṗṗos (Phillip) her life story and thirty of her visions. He wrote both down in her hagiography at the monastery of Debre Libanos. She was buried at Gʷangʷət, where her monastery is today.


  1. ^ Kinefe-Rigb Zelleke. 1975. "Bibliography of the Ethiopic Hagiographic Traditions." Journal of Ethiopian Studies 13, no. 2 (July): 57-102.
  2. ^ Selamawit Mecca. 2006. "Hagiographies of Ethiopian Female Saints: With Special Reference to Gädlä Krestos Sämra and Gädlä Feqertä Krestos." Journal of African Cultural Studies 18, no. 2 (December): 153-167.
  3. ^ a b c d Filəṗṗos. Atti di Krestos Samra [Ethiopic Original]. Ed. Enrico Cerulli. Corpus scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium. (Leuven, Belgium: Imprimerie orientaliste L. Durbecq, 1956).
  4. ^ Nosnitsin, Denis. 2007. "Krəstos Śämra." Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: He-N: Vol. 3, ed. Siegbert Uhlig, 443-445. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  5. ^ Derat, Marie-Laure. 2012. "Chrétiens et musulmans d’Éthiopie face à la traite et à l’esclavage aux XVe et XVIe siècles." Traites et esclavages en Afrique orientale et dans l'océan Indien, ed. Thomas Vernet, Marie-Laure Derat, Henri Médard and Marie-Pierre Ballarin. Paris: Centre d'Etudes des Mondes Africains.
  6. ^ "Saint Kirstos Semra : A Hagiography". De Birhan. 2011-10-08. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  7. ^ a b Gebre-Medhin, Solomon (2015-03-03). "Ethiopia: "Ethiopia Is a Land of Tolerance, Hospitality and Justice," Prof. Ephraim Issac". The Ethiopian Herald (Addis Ababa). Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  8. ^ R. E. Cheesman, Lake Tana and the Blue Nile (London: Macmillan, 1936).