ST. TAKLA HAYMANOT
Coptic Date: 24 Mesore
In the 13th century, a Christian family lived in Ethiopia; the husband who was a priest and loved Jesus very much was called Sagaz Ab (the gift of faith), and the wife who was very rich and loved the poor was called Sarah.
Their patron saint was the Archangel Michael, and they used to make a feast for him on the 12th of every Coptic month by having a mass and after that a banquet for the poor.
The wife was barren and that was why she always prayed to God for a child. "Sarah" used to spend her time in church, busy reading the bible and the psalms. She did her best with the poor and they called her "Agzaharia" (the choice of God).
After many years of peace, a pagan called Motmely ruled the land of "Damoot" and "Shawa". He closed many churches and tried to revive the worship of idols. One day Talanece (the place where Sagaz Ab and Sarah lived) was attacked. When the soldiers entered the country, Sarah was frightened and the people ran away from place to another. Sagaz Ab took a route to hide and was followed by a soldier who wanted to kill him, until they reached a nearby lake, so Sagaz Ab threw himself in the lake to hide from the soldier asking the Archangel Michael to help him through this. At once he felt the water over him as if it’s a tent sheltering him, and the Archangel appeared to strengthen him. And when Sagaz Ab did not show up for a long time, the soldier thought he was drowned and went back.
The Archangel told Sagaz Ab that the soldier went away and hence he got out of the lake. At that time the Archangel Michael told Sagaz Ab that he was saved because of his child to be. He told him of great secrets about the child and carried him back to the town, and this was on 12th of Baramhat.
When the priest went back, he found that all the houses had been stolen either of money or of people. Among the latter was his wife Sarah who was kidnapped by the soldiers who wanted to give her as a present to their king Montemely. When the king saw the face of Sarah, he ordered for the richest clothes and precious jewels for her, and to be kept in the city of gods until their wedding.
Sagaz Ab was in great misery and sadness for what happened to his wife whom he loved very much, and was afraid of the evil king, but he went to the house of God at once. He went into the church and kneeled before the Holy Altar and cried and sobbed a lot while he prayed to God to save his wife. During the liturgy, he put his wife's name Sarah on the altar and all the congregation prayed for her. While he was moving around the church he saw a woman in precious clothes praying in great fear to God. When he finished he went to talk to all the new faces that came to the church, and among them this woman. He asked her where she was from, she told him that she had heard of a man called Sagaz Ab whose wife was taken and kidnapped and hence she came to be his wife! Then the priest crossed and told her that priests do not remarry, and that God would protect his wife and would return her safely to him.
Sarah smiled happily for her husband's faith and told him she was his wife and took off the veil that covered his face. Her husband was surprised and asked her how she had come. She told him that the Angel had saved her and got her to the church. The two bowed down before God in the church and thanked Him for his protection. Then she told him that she prayed for her safety, and Michael, the Archangel came to her to tell her that she would return for the sake of her son.
At night Sagaz Ab had a dream where he saw the sun and a lot of stars in their bedroom and the next day the Archangel told them of the coming of their son. In the morning they gave most of all they had to the poor and they used to make a feast for the archangel every month on the 12th of Kiahk.
On the 24th of Kiahk, "Sarah" gave birth to a beautiful son and called him "The happiness of Sehioun", or " The happiness of the churches". There were many miracles done by him; like when he talked when he was only 3 days old.
After a year and a half, there was a terrible famine that his parents couldn't make the following feast for Michael the Archangel. One day, the mother was praying to God so that she could do anything for the feast of the Archangel. While she was carrying her baby, he wiped her tears and pointed to the kitchen where some flour in a plate was present. He put his hands in the flour and it poured and poured, that the mother gathered every container she had in the house. And the same happened with the ghee, oil and honey. God also gave him the gift of studying the psalms and the Holy Bible.
One night Michael, the Archangel appeared to Pope Kyrillos of Ethiopia in a dream, and told him that the next day a dark colored man would go to him, and would kneel before him. That man had a blessed son, and he was chosen from God. "Consecrate him as a Deacon, then let go of him peacefully", he said.
After this was done while the father and the son were returning, the son asked a group of people for a place to spend the night. One of the group insulted him and hit him without cause. The son shouted asking the help of the Archangel and the man was greatly harmed. The son couldn't bear that because he was full of the Holy Spirit, and he prayed for the man to be cured and the angel cured him, so he believed in God and all his friends and family.
While the son and the father were getting back, (after spending the night at "Amhara") their water was finished and the food became less; so the saint prayed aside and God then created a spring so they could drink from. The saint's parents wanted him to get married, but he refused because he dedicated himself completely to God. So they accepted, but the girl stayed with them at their home (according to the traditions in these countries), but she stayed a virgin as she wished too.
Then he became a priest and his prayers and fasting increased. He stayed with his parents until they passed away. One day while he was practicing his hobby of hunting in the woods, God appeared to him held on the wings of angels saying: "I am your God who protected you since your childhood… Now you hunt people instead of animals. From now your name will be "Takla Haymanout"." Then the heavenly insight disappeared.
The saint heard that in "Ketana" the people worship a tree that is haunted by a devil which they fear. So he went there and prayed until the devil cried out: "Send Takla Hemanoat away. He is dangerous". Then the saint asked for the help of the Archangel and hence asked the tree to follow him. Its roots made a sound like thunder while it was moving and a lot of people were afraid and the roots killed a lot on the road. The devil shouted asking the saint why he was torturing him and if it wasn't enough that he left the land of "Talanes"? The saint asked the devil to confess before all the people that he was cheating and to tell them who the real God is, so the devil confessed that Jesus Christ is the real God.
The saint started preaching the people and they were all baptized. They were 111,500. They constructed a church and had their communion. As for the people who were killed by the devil; Saint Takla prayed to God to raise them from the dead. God answered his prayers. The saint baptized about 60,000 people and all "Ketana" became Christians..
While the saint was devoted to praying and fasting in the desert, he heard a voice calling him 3 times asking him to go to "Damout" because there were many people there who needed preaching. Saint Takla was asked to build a church under the name of Virgin Mary there.
When he got there, he started breaking all the statues that the people worship. The saint knew that the son of the prince had an evil spirit; so he prayed for him and the devil got out in the shape of a monkey. The prince believed in Christ and was baptized along with his wife and son. Saint Takla was able to cure a lot of diseases and got out devils by praying to God.
When king Montemly heard that Saint Takla baptized his son, he was very sad and sent his soldiers to the prince to extradite Saint Takla, but the prince refused. So the king sent more soldiers to get the prince and the saint. When they reached the king, they were tortured a lot, but God's angel cured them. Then they were thrown in a cave full of monsters, but again God's angel got them out safely. Then the king himself tried to throw a spear at Saint Takla, but his hand was paralyzed and he cried of pain. The king then ordered the two men to be hanged on two trees. But when the saint was hanged by the neck in the tree, it bent till the saint's feet reached the ground, and there were holy lights from heaven and people saw angel. All this happened till the king at last believed in God and was baptized.
Then one day Jesus Christ appeared to the saint and told him to go to the land of "Amhara" and stay in its monastery until He talked to him again and told him that Michael the Archangel would be with him. On his way to the land of "Amhara", Saint Takla met a monk and they both went to the monastery on a holy cloud prepared by God till they reached there in two days instead of several months.
When the saint was known all over the place, he asked God to protect him from pride, so Michael the Archangel appeared to him and told him to go to the monastery of "Saint Stephans". On the way he saw a deep river that he couldn't cross, so an angel appeared to him and asked him to follow him on the surface of the water. The angel disappeared and the saint appeared as if he was walking on land, until he reached the other side. He lived there in prayer and fasting.
One night God showed him the happiness and the glory of the saints in heaven and he became very happy; specially that he always remembered and imagined the souls of the saints.
From there Saint Takla Haymanot got out to the land of the "Fakharany" with the guidance of the angel. He went there to a saint monk called "John" and remained there under his guidance for 12 years in the monastery of "Adgway".
The angel appeared to the saint and asked him to go to a cave down the valley. The saint said goodbye to the head monk of the monastery and all the monks went out to see him off. The monks were used to tying whoever gets down with a rope (since the monastery was on top of a hill). While Saint Takla was going down, the rope was cut and the monks were terrified, but they saw six wings getting out from his sides, and carried him until he reached the ground. The monks got back glorifying God for his greatness and for protecting his people.
Our saint got down to a big desert, and he found there many saints who were fasting for five days and did not eat any food; but they were used to eating from the desert plants and drinking from the dew drops on Saturdays and Sundays. He visited many monasteries and churches and he was very keen on visiting Jerusalem, so he went there and saw where Jesus was baptized.
Then the angel of God appeared to Saint Takla telling him to go to the land of "El-Sofan" where his grave would be, and there he would build a church bearing his name.
He last settled in the land of "Shawiry" where he built his well-known monastery known as "Elbianos". Many people followed him and became Monks. He used to pray standing on one foot; the right one, until his leg was broken. His monks took it and covered it. He never got out of his cave, but remained there till his death. When Saint Takla's days came to an end, and his body turned like a burned piece of wood, God appeared to him and told him that he would die of plague, and he would go to heaven with three of his followers.
When it was time for him to die, he got sick of the plague as well as three other monks. He saw God, Virgin Mary and many angels headed by the Archangel Michael. And his cave was lighted with heavenly light, and it was full of a nice scent and his soul was carried to heaven. This was on 24th of Mesore, at the age of 99 years and 8 months. May his prayers be with us. Amen.