You are all making very valid points, I admit. I have read many lives of saints, but this life seems just way, way, way too fantastical. Things such as this raise my eyebrow a bit:
When he was 300 years of age the Lord ordered Gabra Manfas Qeddus to go to Ethiopia to preach to the people there. He travelled there on a winged chariot, accompanied by his leopards and lions.
Some manuscripts recount a visit to heaven, where Manfas Qeddus was kissed by the Holy Trinity
Do I think that he was a holy miracle worker? Absolutely. Do I think that he knew many different languages? Yes. But the above quotes seem beyond belief, to me anyway.
I won't comment on the historicity of of this or any other saint's lives. I will only say that there are just as many "fantastical" stories about EO saints as with this Ethiopian saint. Why single out this one saint? Heck look at the OT where people supposedly lived 900 years etc.... I know many Christians take that to be "literal" while others do not.
I personally have a hard time believing many things about EO saints, numbers of miracles etc... For example, I completely trust and believe St. John of San Francisco was a saint, who performed miracles. But as more and more hagiography is written about him, his miracles seem to increase dramatically. Just from a practical perspective, if any human on the planet in the 20th century were to have performed as many miracles as some of his biographies claim, he most certainly would have been on the news all over the world. (one book I read had his miracles listed in the hundreds, maybe close to a thousand, I think one book said he performed "tens of thousands" or something.......heck even the Apostles and even Jesus Himself aren't recorded to have performed so many miracles)
Now could he have performed so many miracles? Could Jonah have literally been swallowed by a "great fish", could the patriarchs have lived 900 years? Sure. God can do anything He wants. And my point is not to argue which parts of a saint's life is literal history, or spiritual reality, and how these 2 things can be opposites, but also the same thing...only that the Ethiopian Church doesn't have a monopoly on seemingly
fantastic things written about their saints, or events in Church history in general.
In the end I have no doubt God COULD have done all these things, saints could live 300 years, have light flow from their finger tips, literally move mountains, "talk" with animals.......OTH, when I hear of saints "talking" with animals, I don't think of it like in Narnia, but I DO believe they are communicating with them on some other level, telepathically, on another plane or whatever. But are the animals literally talking back to them in English, or Russian or Arabic? I doubt it. (but again, it COULD happen) I actually think the former interpretation of "talking with animals" actually helps me personally more in my spiritual life, and is probably what happened in history. St. Herman is another, whom I really admire, but I don't think the animals were talking to him in Russian, but that he, the saint had reached a point in union with God that he had regained the ability to "communicate" with the animals, on a spiritual or mental level like Adam and Eve originally were able to do, and of course that also was just one of his gifts, since not all saints have that ability. Saint francis is about another saint (I know some Orthodox don't consider him a saint, but bear with me) who's historical life is a little different than things that were later, in fact, much later written about him. And so I understand your point that sometimes the "real" history is more interesting and illuminating than the hagiographic history.....however that's just my opinion, and I do not speak for the Ethiopian Church on this.
I just think God works a little more subtly in history and I think that lines up pretty well with what we see in Scripture. (for the most part) But again, God can do anything He wants, and for all I know these things literally happened exactly as they are described. But it's not necessary to take them at their literal face value, because perhaps what we now see as "literal" is not what people then thought of when reading it.
Anyways, he looks like an interesting saint, and I'm going to try and learn more about him.