Various saints

Painting on cotton divided into four panels. From left to right: Saint Michael, crowned, wearing a blue 'lemd' (Ethiopian cloak) and carrying a double cross; Saint Tekle Haymanot with long white beard dressed in priest's attire, his arms outstretched, and his atrophied leg in the left corner; Saint George on horseback slaying a dragon to save Birutawit who is hiding in a tree; and Saint Mary holding the infant Christ, protected by two angels with swords.

Saint Tekle Haymanot is one of the most important and revered of the Ethiopian saints. At birth his parents promised him to God and from then he followed a monastic life. In 1284 he founded one of Ethiopia's most important monasteries, Debre Libanos. He is often depicted as an old man, with a grey beard, only one leg and six wings. It is said that he stood in prayer for so long that his leg atrophied and fell off, so he continued praying on just one leg. His six wings are said to have been given by God in order to save his life. As the saint descended from the mountain-top monastery, the Devil cut the rope he was climbing down. God blessed the saint with wings and he soared like a bird down to the valley floor.

Collection Information

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