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Kristos Samra

Kristos Samra

Christian saint
Kristos Samra
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Christian saint
Is Saint
From Ethiopia
Type Religion
Gender female
Birth Ethiopia
The details (from wikipedia)


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 and one of the earliest of about fourteen Ethiopian female saints. She lived in the 15th century, according to the Gädlä Krəstos Śämra (The Life of Kristos Samra), a hagiography written about her around 1508. Her monastery's festival in her honor on her saint's day, 24 Nahase (August 30), draws thousands ever year.


Kristos Samra lived in the 15th century (no exact dates of her birth or death appear in her hagiography). 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, she became enraged with a maidservant and thrust a firebrand down her throat. When the maidservant died, Kristos Samra felt terrible and promised God that she would devote her life to him should he resurrect the maid. When he did, Kristos Samra promptly left for Debre Libanos, one of Ethiopia’s monastic communities, to become a nun. She took her youngest child, a boy, with her, but when she arrived, they told her that no males were allowed into the nunnery. She abandoned her child on the side of the road. Another nun saved the boy and raised him, disobeying the rule.

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. Some scholars, such as Ephraim Isaac, consider her to be one of the first female philosophers in Ethiopia, and many other countries. Her contemporary, Zara Yacob of 17th century Ethiopia is also seen as the first philosopher of Ethiopia, and Africa.

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. 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.

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.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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