Krestodolu III (D. 1735) – Ethiopian Saints

KRESTODOLU III (d. 1735)

The immediate successor to Marqos IV, Krestodolu III was requested by Negus Dawit IV (1716-1721), protector of the monks of Ewostatewos (Unctionists) in the long controversy over union and unction. According to the Abridged Chronicle of Ethiopia, Krestodolu III arrived in the Ethiopian capital during the fifth year of Dawit’s reign, on 5 Khedar 1713 of the Ethiopian calendar (A.D. 14 November 1720). Thus, he was consecrated by the Coptic patriarch VI (1718-1726).

Upon his arrival in Gonder, Krestodolu III was forced by Dawit to take an official stand in the Christological dispute. After trying in vain to elude the negus’s request, Krestodolu III, under pressure from a group of court dignitaries, finally issued the following declaration, dated 2 Miyazya 1713 of the Ethiopian calendar (A.D. 8 April 1721): “By unction Jesus is the natural son of God.” This greatly pleased the Unctionists, but the Unionists protested loudly, whereupon the metropolitan issued another declaration hoping to satisfy them: “By union Jesus is the only son, and by unction He is the Messiah.” The negus’s reaction was immediate and terrible.

After a great massacre by the royal troops of the monks in the order of Takla Haymanot (Unionists), Dawit IV had Krestodolu III brought to him by force. In the metropolitan’s presence, the negus publicly proclaimed the Unctionist doctrine, thus giving it an official character. Krestodolu III could only stand by silently before the sovereign’s declaration, but this silence alienated him from the monks of the order of Takla Haymanot, who erased his name from the liturgies celebrated in their monasteries. Only five years later, following an agreement reached between Krestodolu III and the Zawalda Maryam, the head of the monks of the order of Takla Haymanot, was his name again included in their liturgy.

Krestodolu III crowned and blessed the new negus, Asma Giyorgis, called Bakkaffa, after his accession to the throne on 12 Genbot 1713 (A.D. 18 May 1721). Likewise, when this negus died on 11 Maskaram 1723 (A.D. 19 September 1730), it was Krestodolu III who administered to the ruler’s coffin and then blessed his successor, Negus Iyyasu II.

In 1723 there was a plot in Gonder to overthrow Iyyasu II and replace him with one of his relatives. The insurgents seized Krestodolu III and the eccage Takla Haymanot, and forced them to excommunicate the negus. When the rebellion was suppressed, the two prelates had to justify their action. They explained that not only were they imprisoned but also they were told that Catholic priests were hidden in the palace and that Iyyasu II intended to favor the church of Rome. Thereupon, the negus, in a show of clemency, pardoned them.

According to the chronicle of Iyyasu II, Krestodolu III died on Saturday, 9 Nahase 1727 (A.D. 13 August 1735). His immediate successor was Yohannes III.

  • BIBLIOGRAPHY
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SALVATORE TEDESCHI