Ghebre-Michael differs in three ways from the other canonised and beatified members of our Congregation: First, he was African, not European; second, he was not a born Catholic, but an adult convert; and third, he was not actually a confrere.
He was a disciple of Justin de Jacobis for many years, and eventually decided, with Justin’s consent, to become a Vincentian. A date was fixed for him to begin his intern seminary but when the fixed day arrived he was under arrest, and he died before he could carry out his intention. In a letter to the Superior General, Jean-Baptiste Etienne, Justin explained all this but said that he called Ghebre-Michael a Vincentian “because in his heart he already belonged to the Congregation”.
In a certain sense, too, he was not, strictly speaking, a martyr. He was not actually put to death for the faith. He died as a result of the long harsh treatment he had received.
The prefix Ghebre means “the servant of” and is always followed by the name of a saint; this combination is a very common form of name in Ethiopia and Eritrea. “Ghebre” cannot be separated from “Michael” and used as if it were a first name.
For the entire study on Blessed Ghebre-Michael and Justin deJacobis done by Father Tom Davitt, C.M. visit http://www.famvin.org/cm/institutes/CIF/cif-talks/Justin-ghebre.html