ca. 1580–ca. 1632
Emperor of Ethiopia
One of the most powerful emperors of ETHIOPIA, Susenyos attempted to change the Ethiopian Church. Soon after taking the throne in 1607, Susenyos decided that, for political and religious reasons, Ethiopia should accept the authority of the Catholic Church in Rome rather than the Coptic Church in ALEXANDRIA in Egypt. A Jesuit missionary, Pedro Paez, and Susenyos' brother Celakrestos encouraged the emperor in this matter, and he officially accepted the authority of Rome in 1622.
In 1625 Susenyos welcomed a Roman Catholic official named Alphonsus Mendes to his royal court. The official immediately began introducing Latin elements of Christianity into the Ethiopian church to make it more Roman Catholic in style. However, these efforts met with widespread public opposition and led to a series of revolts. Susenyos eventually gave the throne to his son FASILADAS, who expelled Mendes from Ethiopia and restored the authority of Alexandria. (See also Christianity in Africa, Copts, Ethiopian Orthodox Church.)