Abgar In Christian legend, a king of Edessa who corresponded with Jesus. Jesus left no written records, but Christian legend has supplied them in the form of a correspondence with Abgar. In one letter Abgar asks “Jesus the good Savior” to come to heal him because “it is reported that you cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, do both cleanse lepers, and cast out unclean spirits and devils.” Abgar’s letter is answered by Jesus saying he must “fulfill all the ends” of his mission but will send after his Ascension to heaven one of his disciples “who will cure” the king’s disease.

These unhistorical letters are reproduced in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, written in the fourth century. In a later addition to the letters there is one in which Jesus sends a portrait of himself on a cloth used to wipe his face. Upon touching the portrait, Abgar is cured of his illness. As fantastic as the letters are, some clergymen, both Catholic and Protestant, have defended them as genuine. Up to the middle of the 19th century it was common in some English homes to have the letters framed with a portrait of Christ.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante