Oil Dedicated to Blessed Ghebre Michael
Blessed Ghebre Michael differs in three major ways from the other canonized and beatified members of our congregation. First, he was not European, but African. Second, we was not born Catholic, but an adult convert. And third, he was not a confrere.
Born in Ethiopia in 1790, was a pilgrim in life, always seeking truth. He became a monophysite monk at the age of 19 and was a gifted student. He remained restless in his search for the truth. Made a long pilgrimage from Ethiopia to Cairo to Rome to Jerusalem. It was on this pilgrimage that he met Justin de Jacobis for the first time. It was also on this pilgrimage in Rome that he found himself very attracted to the Catholic Church.
Shared his desire to be received in the Catholic Church with Justin de Jacobis. He joined the Church in 1844. Six years later, Justin asked him to consider becoming a priest and Ghebre Michael agreed. He was ordained in January 1851.
Helped enormously in the foundation of the clergy. Composed a dictionary of the Ge’ez language used in the liturgy. He wrote a source book about the Catholic faith which was simple and clear. He produced a textbook in dogmatic theology.
But Ghebre Michael was destined to suffer greatly. Just before being ordained, he had been imprisoned for two months at 60 years of age. Later, when persecution broke out, he was imprisoned again. He was tortured repeatedly and urged to renounce Catholicism. He was led from place to place in chains and, bloodied by beatings, presented before crowds.