Ṣägga Krәstos (Zaga Christ)
I first learned about Ṣägga Krǝstos’s while conducting my doctoral research, over a decade ago. As I began consulting the limited literature available on this incredible character and his journey, it became clear to me that his experience in Europe had been misinterpreted and remained rather understudied. I have been on Ṣägga Krǝstos’s trail since then, scouring over twenty archives in Europe, the Middle East and North America. As of today, I have published an overview of his journey in the Journal of Early Modern History, and his autobiographical statement, for Africa. I am currently working on a comprehensive study, which should be ready by late 2022.
Overview Article in the Journal of Early Modern History
In 1632, Ṣägga Krәstos arrived in Cairo and introduced himself to Franciscan missionaries as the legitimate heir to the Ethiopian throne. Following conversion to Catholicism, he embarked on an epic journey throughout the Italian peninsula and France, where he won the approval of prelates, noblemen, and learned observers, whom he impressed with his piety, refined manners, and intellect. However, his journey ended in a scandal that defined his legacy, turning him into a farcical figure.
Giovanna Garzoni's Miniature Portrait of Ṣägga Krǝstos
In 1634-5, Ṣägga Krǝstos spent several months in Turin, hosted by the Duke of Savoy, and was immortalized by the Giovanna Garzoni in an exquisite miniature portrait recently acquired by the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. Admire and learn more about this unique painting in this video and this article by the curator.