Independent monarchy in northeastern Africa; area, 350,000 square miles; estimated population, 10,000,000.
According to legend, Christianity was introduced by the eunuch Candace baptized by Philip the Deacon, and was firmly established in the 4th century under Saint Frumentius, the first bishop.
Since his time the Abyssinians have belonged to the Coptic Church and fell with it into the Monophysite heresy.
The Abyssinian Church is today a debased form of Christianity curiously mingled with Judaistic rites.
There are a few Catholics of the Abyssinian Rite in communion with Rome, but all attempts at a general reconciliation have been frustrated by national feeling.
Catholic missionaries were not relieved of persecution until the reign of Menelek II in the 19th century.
New Catholic Dictionary