Saturday, April 21, 2012

St. Gabriel the Child-Martyr of Poland

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

St. Gabriel the Child-Martyr of Poland - Commemorated April 20 (
From this Saint, we perceive many important messages:
1. One's age, experience, intelligence or possessions are not prerequisites for holiness, as our Church has many examples (from the Holy Innocents to St. Kerykos the Child-martyr to Sts. Faith, Hope and Love the Virgin-Martyrs), of infants and children who have lived lives of holiness, and have suffered for Christ. And Christ glorified them as faithful servants who were faithful unto death.
2. The demons, and twisted, sadistic and sick people under their influence are not new phenomena. But despite the extreme darkness that could enable one to go so far as to kill an innocent child, the light of Christ will ultimately triumph.
3. This triumph through the Resurrection of Christ is vivdly demonstrated through the revelation of the incorrupt relics of this Saint, and their great wonderworking through the Holy Spirit. To paraphrase the Divine Chrysostom: Christ is risen, and the demons have fallen! Christ is risen, and not one dead is left in the tombs!
St. Gabriel the Child-martyr of Poland (
The holy youth Martyr Gabriel was born in 1684 in the village of Zverka, Zabludov diocese, to apious peasant couple, Peter and Anastasia Govdel. He was baptized in the Dormition church of the Zabludov monastery and received the name Gabriel in honor of the Archangel.

Besides the meekness and guilelessness normally found in children, the young Gabriel was marked by characteristics uncommon to his age. He had, for example, a reflective nature and a mature perception of the action of Divine Providence in people's lives. It is not surprising that he inclined more towards prayer and solitude than towards the amusements which occupied his peers.
In 1690 tragedy visited the GovdeI family. One day the unsuspecting mother, leaving the six-year old Gabriel alone in the house, took some food to his father who was out plowing the fields. While she was gone a local tenant came to the house. Taking advantage of the parents' absence and the child's trusting nature, he kidnapped the boy.

Gabriel was taken secretly to the town of Bialystok and given over to sadistic torture. His side was pierced and a special instrument was inserted which gradually drained his blood. After nine days of such treatment the boy died. Desiring to conceal such a vile deed, the murderer secretly took the body and threw it onto the edge of a field near some woods in the vicinity of the boy's home village.

The martyrdom of St. Gabriel, which included nine days of torture, piercing of his blessed side, and crucifixion for Christ (
The holy Feast of Pascha approached. Hungry dogs began gathering around the lifeless body, predatory birds circled overhead. Miraculously the body remained untouched. Not only did the dogs refrain from devouring it, they even guarded it against the birds.

The body of the young martyr was eventually discovered and taken to Zabludov. An investigation brought to light the particulars of the crime which was duly entered in the town records. With the participation of many local inhabitants, deeply shaken by the committed atrocity, the body of the martyr Gabriel was laid to rest near the cemetery church. There it remained for close to thirty years.

Early in the 18th century, the whole territory surrounding Bialystok was seized by an epidemic. Thousands fell victim to the disease and crowded the cemeteries. Many children from the neighborhood of Zvevka and Zabludov were buried near the grave of the child-martyr Gabriel whom many revered on account of his innocent suffering and martyric death. Many sensed an abundance of grace present at his grave,

Once, during a burial, some grave diggers inadvertently came up against Gabriel' s coffin. When it was opened witnesses were astonished to see that after the passage of so many years, the child's body was incorrupt. News of the miracle spread with lightening speed among the faithful, strengthening and increasing veneration for the holy child. His relics were reverently transferred to the village church in Zverkov and placed in a special crypt below the church.

St. Gabriel the Child-martyr of Poland (
In 1794 a fire destroyed the church but, miraculously, the relics were spared. Only a portion of one hand was partially burned and this, undoubtedly, in accordance with God's Providence for the sake of strengthening faith and piety among the Orthodox people, for when the holy relics were subsequently transferred to the Zabludov monastery, the injured hand was supernaturally restored; it was found to be newly covered with skin.

The living memory of the child-martyr, the honor accorded him, and the desire to promote his veneration inspired the building of a church on the site of his grave. On the day of Holy Pascha 1894, took place the festive consecration of the church. Sadly, only eight years later this church also burned. But on this occasion likewise there occurred a miracle. Although the church was completely destroyed, the icon of its heavenly patron, child-martyr Gabriel, was preserved unharmed.
The Holy Relics of St. Gabriel the Child-martyr of Poland (
For many years St. Gabriel's relics lay in the Zabludov monastery. External circumstances, however, forced upon the area a tense situation which was heightened by the ill will of some of its heterodox inhabitants. For the sake of security the relics were transferred to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Slutsky--which explains how St. Gabriel came to be called "Slutsky," a fact which clouds the true origin of this Zabludov saint. From Slutsky the holy relics were eventually transferred to the city of Minsk and then to Grodno where they exist at the present time.

But the believers of the Polish Orthodox Churchhave faith that in God's good time the holy relics of the child-martyr Gabriel will be returned to his homeland, to the place of his birth, where his memory is reverently preserved in prayer even to this day.
(Translated from the Life, in Russian, published together with an akathist to the Saint through the efforts of the Orthodox parish in Zabludov;

" On days 21-22 September 1992, with blessing of a Bialystok and Gdansk Archbishop Sawa and also with blessing of a Grodno and Volkowyck Bishop Valentin, the relic of Saint Gabriel was festively transferred from Grodno to St. Nicola's Cathedral in Bialystok."
St. Gabriel the Child-martyr of Poland (

Troparion of the Saint
Holy Child Gabriel, in the name of the One pierced for us, bad people had pierced your body, and for the One who blooded for us, your whole body was bleeding and ha terrible wounds, but now and in eternal glory you are enjoying with Him. Remember there about us, who here on earth are worshipping you, pray for the health of our bodies and the salvation of our souls!

Thou wast born in God-preserved Zverka, O Martyr of Christ Gabriel, where thou didst pass thy childhood. From thy father's house thou wast cunningly stolen away by evil people, and having endured cruel torments, thou didst settle in the heavenly homeland. Preserve us from all attacks and misfortune, and, we beg of thee, entreat the Lord that we too may partake of thine eternal inheritance.
St. Gabriel the Martyr of Poland (
Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!


luis_rcoelho said...

This is a catholic blog, therefore it should tell the facts as they happened. Why on earth did you fail to mention that Gabriel was a victim of a jewish blood ritual murder? Telling the truth and exposing facts and actions is not anti-Semitism, ok? criticism of actions is not hatred of have been infected with Zionist and jewish ancient, 'fear of the jews' are terrified of being labelled an 'anti-semite'....that is shameful

Agioi_Anargyroi said...

First, this is an Orthodox Christian blog.

Second, the sources that I have referenced do not mention that the murder of St. Gabriel was from a Jew. Others may, but this information was taken from the cited source site.

If it were the case that St. Gabriel was murdered by a Jew, I would not have a problem mentioning this. However, it is irrelevant who murdered St. Gabriel and for what reason. This was clearly a demonic act, and whoever killed him will have to give an account for this. But the most important thing is that Christ's light continues to shine through the darknkess, and the darkness has not overtaken it.

Jeff said...

Holy child martyr lead us Filipinos in orthodoxy