Giyorgis I – Ethiopian Prelates

ETHIOPIAN PRELATES: GIYORGIS I (fl. early twelfth century)

It is probable that Giyorgis (Jirjis in Arabic) was the immediate successor of Abuna Sawiros. The only information concerning him is found in the History of the Patriarchs (Renaudot, 1713, pp. 475-76).

During A.M. 818/A.D. 1101-1102, the king of Ethiopia (unnamed in the Arabic text) sent a messenger to al-Afdal, vizier of the Fatimid al-Amir, asking al-Afdal to have a new metropolitan named for the Ethiopian church. The vizier summoned MICHAEL IV (1092-1102) and asked him to act quickly in regard to this request so that the new bishop could depart for Ethiopia with the returning messenger. Michael chose and consecrated a monk by the name of Jirjis who came from DAYR ANBA MAQAR in WADI HABIB.

However, the new prelate, who left for Ethiopia immediately, remained but a short time in that country. In fact, it is said that after his arrival, he transgressed there in infamous affairs and vile deeds unbecoming to his rank (Sergew Hable Sellassie, 1972, pp. 250-51). The king of Ethiopia, sharply reacting to this, seized all Ethiopian properties acquired by Giyorgis, sent him back to Egypt, and asked that the offending bishop be punished. In Cairo, the vizier had Giyorgis cast into prison, where he remained for several years.

The History of the Patriarchs gives no further information about this prelate. It is probable, but not certain, that his immediate successor was Abuna Mika’el I.


  • Renaudot, E. Patriarcharum Alexandrinorum Jacobitarum, 76. 475-76. Paris, 1713.
  • Rossini, C. C. Storia d’Etiopia, p. 289. Bergamo, 1928. 1270, pp. 250-51. Addis Ababa, 1972.