Ewostatewos (Eustathius) was a Tigrean monastic evangelist who lived from 1273 to 1352. In his missionary, he attempted to abolish pagan animistic religions and ceremonial observances. He is well known for having uprooted twelve sanctified groves of trees devoted to pagan gods (Heze 62).
Said to be a nephew of Abba Daniel of Geralta, Ewostatewos founded a vibrant monastic community in Serae (Seraye). In his teachings, he urged his followers to make their own food. He forbad them from taking donations from nobles. He condemned Christian rulers who were involved with the slave trade and he advocated the teaching of Christ.
At the time, the Ethiopian church as well as the representative of the Alexandrian Patriarch were opposed to observing the Sabbath on Saturday. Ewostatewos and most Tigreans, however, preferred to observe the Sabbath on Saturday and Sunday. The conflicting view between Ewostatewos and the church lead him to leave the country around 1338. He went to Cyprus, Jerusalem, Egypt, and finally settled in Armenia until his death (Prouty and Rosenfeld 64).
Ewostatewos’ followers, upon their return to Ethiopia, were forced to settle in distant border regions to avoid the wrath of the main church. His followers built Debre Bizen in Hamasien and Gunda Gunde in northeast Tigary (Henze 62).
Ewostatewan followers were persecuted and secluded until the reign of Dawit in 1404. Emperor Zara Yakob in 1450 supervised the Council of Debre Mitmak in Shewa and finally resolved the conflict by accepting to observe Sabbath on Saturday and Sunday (Prouty and Rosenfeld 64).
Henze, Paul B. , Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.
Prouty, Chris and Rosenfeld, Eugene. Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia. London: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1982.