Christianity in Ethiopia dates to the 1st century AD, arguably the first nation in the world to accept Christianity (the other nation to debate this being Armenia) and this long tradition makes Ethiopia unique amongst sub-Saharan African countries. Christianity in this country is divided into several groups. The largest and oldest is the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (in Amharic: የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተክርስትያን Yäityop'ya ortodoks täwahedo bétäkrestyan) is an Oriental Orthodox church in Ethiopia that was part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa Cyril VI.
The largest pre-colonial Christian church of Africa, the Ethiopian Church has a membership of between 40 and 46 million, the majority of whom live in Ethiopia, and is thus the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches. Next in size are the various Protestant congregations, who include 13.7 million Ethiopians. The largest Protestant group is the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, with about 5 million members. Roman Catholicism has been present in Ethiopia since the century, and numbers 536,827 believers. In total, Christians make up about 60% of the total population of the country.
Saint Moses the Black (330–405), (also known as Abba Moses the Robber, the Abyssinian, the Ethiopian, and the Strong) was an ascetic monk, priest,and a notable Desert Father.
St. Moses was a servant of a government official in Egypt who dismissed him for theft and suspected murder. He became the leader of a gang of bandits who roamed the Nile Valley spreading terror and violence. Once while attempting to hide from local authorities, he took shelter with some monks in a colony in the desert of Wadi El Natrun, then called Sketes, near Alexandria. Their peace, faith. And commitment deeply influenced Moses deeply and he soon gave up his old way of life and was baptized and joined the monastic community at Scetes.
St. Moses was known for his imposing strength. He was once attacked by a group of robbers in his desert cell. He fought back, overpowered the intruders, and dragged them to the chapel where the other monks were at prayer. He told the brothers that he did not think it Christian to hurt the robbers and asked what he should do with them.
Though Moses was very zealous, he became discouraged when he concluded he was not perfect enough. Early one morning, Saint Isidore, abbot of the monastery, took Moses to the roof and together they watched the first rays of dawn come over the horizon. Isidore told Moses, “Only slowly do the rays of the sun drive away the night and usher in a new day, and thus, only slowly does one become a perfect contemplative.”
Once Moses was invited to a meeting to discuss an appropriate penance for a fellow monk who had sinned, When he came to the meeting, Moses took a leaking jug filled with water, or possibly a basket full of sand, and carried it on his shoulder. Upon being asked why he was carrying the jug, he replied, “My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, but today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” On hearing this, the assembled brothers forgave the erring monk.
St. Moses died at around 75 while defending his monastery from bandits. He is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Eastern Catholic Churches, and the Lutheran Church. He is the patron saint of Africa and pacifism.