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Jacobis, Giustino de, St.


Missionary bishop in ethiopia; b. San Fele, Lucania, Italy, Oct. 9, 1800; d. Aligadé, Ethiopia, July 31, 1860. Reared in Naples, he entered the vincentians (1818) and was ordained (1824). He engaged in mission preaching and was superior of various Vincentian communities in central Italy. In 1839 he became prefect apostolic of his congregation's mission in Ethiopia and resided at Adau. At first contemptuously called "the Frank" by the Monophysite Copts, he later came to be respected and affectionately known as "Abuna Yacob" (Father James). In 1841 the Copts induced him to accompany a mission to the Monophysite patriarch of Alexandria seeking the election of an Ethiopian metropolitan. His presence disturbed the patriarch, but de Jacobis persuaded one of the party, ghebre michael, to continue to Rome and to visit Pope gregory xvi. In 1844 de Jacobis received Ghebre Michael into the Catholic Church and with his assistance established a seminary at Guala (1845). De Jacobis built a Catholic center on the Red Sea island of Massawa, where he was consecrated bishop by Guglielmo massaja (1848). In 1855 he was imprisoned by the usurper Theodor and then banished. He spent the rest of his life ministering along the Red Sea coast. For befriending a French diplomatic mission he was again imprisoned in 1860. He was released, but the hardship of his captivity had worn him out, and he died while returning to his mission at Halai in Eritrea. He was beatified May 14, 1939 by Pius XII and canonized October 26, 1975 by Paul VI.

Feast: July 31.

Bibliography: a. devin, L'Abyssinie et son apôtre (Paris 1866). s. arata, Vita del B. Giustino de Jacobis (Rome 1939). e. lucatello, Labuna Yaqob Mariàm (Rome 1975). k. o'mahoney, "The ebullient phoenix": A History of the Vicariate of Abyssinia, 18391860, 2 v. (Asmara, Ethiopia 19827). j. l. baudot and l. chaussin, Vies des saints et des bienhereux selon l'ordre du calendrier avec l'historique des fêtes (Paris 193556) 7:770774. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:230235.

[t. p. joyce]

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