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OF MOTHERS AND MONKS: AN EVOLVING CHRISTIAN TALE [Abstract ID: 1302-22]
Among the 14C manuscripts in the Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library (EMML 1763 ff. 84v-86r; Addis Ababa/Collegeville, Minnesota) resides the “Homily in Honour of St. Frumentius Bishop of Axum.” The homily, likely delivered annually to commemorate the anniversary of its namesake, includes a legendary account of the christianization of the Axumite Kingdom (Ethiopia). Providing a useful entry point for examination of the shifting role of motherhood in the transmission of the legend, this paper builds on the foundational linguistic and historical work of A. Dillman and G. Haile, and applies a gendered lens to the homily, its ancient sources, and its inclusion in the Synaxarium (Hamle 26). This approach makes it possible to trace and explore the presence and impact of variant presentations of motherhood as a biological category in distinct contexts. Appeals, or lack thereof, to biological motherhood in these sources demonstrate decisions that illuminate its understated significance in the legend.