Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Elesban, King and Confessor

Saint Elesbaan of EthiopiaArticle

The Roman Martyrology mentions today, with great praise, the holy King Elesban, who reigned in Ethiopia, and manifested great zeal in disseminating the Christian faith. The Homerite Arabians, who dwelt in the neighborhood, were governed by Dunan, a wicked man, who perpetrated acts of great cruelty on the Christians. Elesban wrote to him several times, endeavoring to dissuade him from persecuting the faithful; but as the tyrant continued in his cruelty, our pious king determined to make war against him. A holy hermit advised him to obtain the divine assistance by the intercession of the holy martyrs; and the king, having followed this advice, obtained a complete victory over the enemy. Dunan was so utterly undone, that he bound himself with chains of gold, and went with his intimate friends to meet King Elesban, and voluntarily surrendered himself. After this glorious victory over the cruel enemies of the Christians, Elesban gained a still more glorious one over himself. Desiring to serve the Almighty more perfectly, and to be more certain of the salvation of his soul, he renounced the throne, and sent his crown to Jerusalem, consecrating it to the King of Kings. Having given large alms to the poor, he went into a monastery and led a holy life until his end. What was most admirable in his life in the monastery, was his great austerity in fasting; for after having enjoyed the abundance of the royal table for many years, he then took only dry bread, wild herbs and water; and yet he became more healthy, with this severe abstinence, than he had formerly been, with the choicest viands of his costly table. His death, like his life, was precious in the eyes of the Lord.

Practical Considerations

The holy king, Elesban, desiring to serve God more perfectly, and more surely to save his soul, voluntarily laid aside purple and crown and sceptre, and passed his remaining years in great austerity and holiness. What are you doing to obtain everlasting salvation? How do you employ the time which the mercy of the Almighty has vouchsafed to you, in order that you might serve Him and thus walk in the path which leads to heaven? Ah! if the lost had the opportunity which you have to work out your salvation, what would they not do? Consider this question well, and resolve to avoid everything that may impede your way to heaven, and to devote the rest of your days to the service of God, and to gain salvation. “For it is, in truth,” says Saint Chrysostom, “the greatest folly that we do not take as much care to save our souls, as the evil one does to make us for ever unhappy.” The devil takes all possible pains to deprive our soul of that happiness for which it was created. Why then should we not earnestly endeavor to bring it to the end of its creation, and thus procure for it unending happiness? He esteems our souls so highly, that to obtain them, he offers all the kingdoms of the world, as we read in the Gospel that he offered to the Saviour all the glory and treasures of the world, and said to him: “All these I will give thee, if, falling down, you wilt adore me” (Matthew 4). Why do we ourselves think our souls of so little value, that we sell them for a mere gratification or a trifling gain? “How blind must the rage be,” says Saint Salvian, “which possesses us, to regard our souls of so little consequence, when Satan esteems them so precious a treasure?” If you value your soul, take better care for its salvation.

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Elesban, King and Confessor”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 May 2018. Web. 17 January 2022. <>