The Two Yoḥannәses of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, Rome: Reconstructing Biography and Cross-Cultural Encounter Through Manuscript Evidence
- Manuscript Studies: A Journal of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 2, Number 2, Fall 2017
- pp. 392-426
- View Citation
- Additional Information
The Ethiopian Orthodox monastery of Santo Stefano degli Abissini in Rome was one of four diasporic Ethiopian communities around the Mediterranean and played a central role in disseminating knowledge about Ethiopian language, culture, and religion in sixteenth-century Europe. Yet apart from its most famous member, Täsfa Ṣǝyon, very little is known about the identities and careers of its monks. This article draws on the surviving Geez manuscripts of Santo Stefano’s own library, as well as European correspondence and archival documents, to reconstruct the biographies of two influential denizens of Santo Stefano. Hitherto believed to be a single person, Yoḥannǝs of Qänṭorare and Giovanni Battista “the Indian” (whom we identify instead as Yoḥannǝs of Cyprus) in fact followed quite different career trajectories, and illustrate the variety of ways in which Ethiopian Orthodox identity could be negotiated in a Catholic European setting.