Blessed Elesbaan was the Emperor of what is now Ethiopia, and lived when Arabia was ruled by Dunaan, an oppressor of Christians. The pious Elesbaan was unable to stand by while those who believed in Christ were being massacred. He declared war on Dunaan, but his first military campaign was not successful.
Desiring to learn the reason for his defeat, Elesbaan, inspired by a revelation from above, visited a recluse named Zenon. He revealed to the Emperor that he had acted unrighteously in his desire to take revenge against Dunaan, for the Lord has said, “Vengeance is Mine, I shall repay!” (Hebrews 10:30).
The holy ascetic urged Elesbaan to promise that he would devote the rest of his life to God, if he wished to escape His wrath for his self-willed revenge, and then he would defeat Dunaan. Elesbaan made that vow to the Lord, and in 520 he and his army confronted the enemy. This time, he defeated, captured, and executed Dunaan. According to the Roman Martyrology, after Elesbaan defeated the enemies of Christ, he sent his royal diadem to Jerusalem to be hung near the Life-Giving tomb of Christ, during the reign of Emperor Justin.
Following his victory, the saint kept his word and abdicated as Emperor, secluding himself in a monastery. For the next fifteen years he lived a life of strict fasting and asceticism.
Emperor Elesbaan reposed around in about 553-555.
The love of God led you to avenge the spilled blood of the righteous,
just as David did for Samuel,
and you received a prophecy from the renowned Zenon,
who foretold what was to occur.
With his blessing, and by the vow that you made,
you won a victory over your enemies,
after which, you abdicated your throne and went to a monastery,
where you spent your life in fasting.
O Blessed Elesbaan, entreat Christ the Heavenly King
for the salvation of our souls.
Rejecting the loftiness of an earthly kingdom,
and the glory of a crown and a mantle out of love for Christ the King,
He crowned you with glory in the heavens, O wise Emperor Elesbaan.
You exchanged a corruptible and temporal kingdom for the Eternal Kingdom.
Therefore, we glorify you with hymns as a great intercessor for peace.