The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an Oriental Orthodox church. Its autocephaly was recognised by Pope Shenouda III after Eritrea gained its independence in 1993.
Tewahdo (Te-wa-hido) (Ge'ez ተዋሕዶ tawāhidō) is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one". According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1917 edition) article on the Henoticon: the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and many others, all refused to accept the "two natures" doctrine decreed by the Byzantine Emperor Marcian's Council of Chalcedon in 451, thus separating them from the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. The Oriental Orthodox Churches, which today include the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Malankara Orthodox Church of India, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, are referred to as "Non-Chalcedonian", and, sometimes by outsiders as "monophysite" (meaning "One Nature", in reference to Christ; a rough translation of the name Tewahido). However, these Churches themselves describe their Christology as miaphysite.
Tewahdo (Te-wa-hido) is a major ethnoreligious group in Eritrea and the largest Christian group there. Christianity has been the majority religion since the 4th centuries AD and remains still the largest population. Historically they spoke the Ge'ez language, a Semitic family, but it has been near-extinct and mostly limited to liturgical use since the 10th century. They now speak Tigrigna. Most Tewahdo adhere to the Tewahdo Orthodox Church. Tewahdo is an identity and a religion as well for the adherent of Eritrean Tewahdos.
The Eritrean Orthodox Church claims its origins from Philip the Evangelist (Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 8). It became the established church of the Axumite Kingdom under king Ezana in the 4th century through the efforts of a Syrian Greek named Frumentius, known in the church as Abba Selama, Kesaté Birhan ("Father of Peace, Revealer of Light"). As a boy, Frumentius had been shipwrecked with his brother Aedesius on the Eritrean coast. The brothers managed to be brought to the royal court, where they rose to positions of influence and converted Emperor Ezana to Christianity, causing him to be baptised. Ezana sent Frumentius to Alexandria to ask the Patriarch, St. Athanasius, to appoint a bishop for Axum. Athanasius appointed Frumentius himself, who returned to Axum as Bishop with the name of Abune Selama. For fifteen centuries afterward, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria always named a Copt (an Egyptian) to be Abuna or Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ethiopian Church.