3.9.1 So the God-loving emperor clung to God with great piety and faith, and he caused many other foreign tribes to come to peace with him. God had long ago subjected to him many of these tribes, which had formerly been in conflict with the Romans. To the degree that he reverently humbled himself before God, and in fact much more than this, God made him prosper in everything.

3.9.2 At that time, many advantageous circumstances arose for the proclamation of the apostolic message. Even though Matthew had preached to the Parthians, Bartholomew to the Ethiopians, and Thomas to the Indians of great India, the message about Christ was not yet well-known to the Indians far from Parthia and certain peoples neighboring them.

3.9.3 It so happens that after the fashion of Metrodorus, a philosopher who had traveled to nearly every people for research purposes, a certain Tyrian man named Meropius, a philosopher of some repute, undertook the same research as Metrodorus. Meropius brought along two boys who had been thoroughly instructed in every area of book-learning and who were zealously eager for every subject of research. They themselves had encouraged the philosopher Meropius to take them with him. Their names were Frumentius and Edesius.

3.9.4 It was the custom and law of the foreigners who lived there, when we Romans did not abide by the peace treaties enacted with them, to kill those of us found among them. It happened then that for a short time the treaties between the two parties were dissolved while Meropius was visiting inner India with Frumentius and Edesius.

3.9.5 Because they were constrained by a lack of provisions, especially water, they put out to sea and came back to shore at various places throughout those inner Indians’ territory. They were unable to make progress because they were hindered by opposing winds. Indeed, on some days they escaped notice and procured the needs of their bodies from the land itself.

3.9.6 One day, while the boys were reading under a tree, the foreigners came and slaughtered Meropius along with all the others except the aforementioned boys Frumentius and Edesius, whom they knew. They took pity on them because they were children, spared them, and brought them to their king as a gift. The king immediately perceived that Frumentius was clever and appointed him administrator over his household finances, and he had Edesius pour wine for him.

3.9.7 They were in this situation and were advancing day by day when the king died, leaving his son, still an infant, as the successor of his kingdom, with the approval of the great king of the Indians.

3.9.8 Therefore Frumentius and his companion became stewards of the child and of his whole kingdom, for his mother appointed them to have authority over everything because of their sincere character and life experience. In addition to their natural disposition, they were knowledgeable especially due to their education and their life abroad, by which young people in particular attain the firmness typical of older people.

3.9.9 Since they were pious, distinguishing themselves by their faith in God and surpassing others in every kind of benevolence, they traversed land and sea in fulfillment of their obligations for the child’s kingdom. They directed the neighboring people to bring to them any Romans living there, for they had in mind to spread the knowledge of God to the Indians through them.

3.9.10 The time was opportune. After they had found some Romans, they persuaded them to make places of prayer of the Roman style and to construct church buildings in which those who received the knowledge of God could gather, although they could not build altars because they did not have the authority of the priesthood.

3.9.11 Frumentius in particular brought about occasion for the Indians on the other side to receive the knowledge of God by generously approaching them with kindness, friendliness, and exhortations.

3.9.12 When the king’s son, over whose kingdom they were acting as stewards, reached manhood and attained full maturity, they asked him for permission to return to their own country. But when the king and his mother, with much pleading, begged them and clung to them, refusing to let them leave, Frumentius said that the matter distressed them greatly. Thus they compelled the king and his mother to release them. They agreed with great sadness, for they did not want to contradict Frumentius, seeing as he was a gentleman.

3.9.13 They handed over to the boy and his mother all the affairs of the kingdom which had been entrusted to them and departed India with great dignity, beginning their journey to their homeland.

3.9.14 Edesius at that time went to Tyre, but Frumentius went to Alexandria. He thought it necessary not to neglect the divine work which was occurring among the foreigners. Frumentius appeared before the bishop of the church of Alexandria, Athanasius (who at that time was at the helm of the high priesthood there), described to him everything that had happened, and suggested that he send a bishop to them.

3.9.15 Thereupon the great Athanasius, wisely and intelligently attending to the report, said to Frumentius, “What other man shall we find in whom the Spirit of God dwells besides you, brother, who will be able to properly direct these actions and best guide the churches there?” He ordained him bishop and ordered him to travel again to India, dedicate the churches there, and take care of the people there.

3.9.16 God gave exceptional grace to the man after his ordination so that he gave forth apostolic splendor. When he came to the aforementioned inner India, affirming the gospel of Christ with signs and miracles, he drew great multitudes of Indians to the true faith of Christ. They genuinely accepted the divine Word proclaimed through him. So the churches and ordinations greatly increased in number among those peoples.

3.9.17 Edesius, who remained in Tyre, reported these things to us. He had become a priest of the church there and remained there until the end of his life.


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