Walatta Petros: African nun with a female partner in 17th century Ethiopia

As well as being an interesting report from qspirit of an Ethiopian female saint with a same-sex romantic relationship, this is also a reminder that Christianity was well-established in Africa more than a thousand years before the arrival of the colonial missionaries.

Walatta Petros is a 17th-century Ethiopian nun and saint who had an intense lifelong friendship with another nun and led a successful movement to drive out foreign missionaries. Her feast day is Nov. 23.

Her biography, written by her disciples just 30 years after her death, is the earliest known depiction of same-sex desire among women in sub-Saharan Africa. That section was censored until 2015, when the first English translation was published.

Controversial evidence of same-sex love in her history is revealed in her biography: “The Life  and Struggles of Our Mother Walatta Petros: A 17th-Century African Biography of an Ethiopian Woman” by Galawdewos.  Written in 1672, it was published in English for the first time in 2015. Wendy Belcher, associate professor of African literature at Princeton University, translated and edited it with Michael Kleiner. It is the earliest known book-length biography of an African woman.

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