Friday, January 26, 2018

Saint Gabriel, Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem (+ c. 490)

St. Gabriel of the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem (Feast Day - January 26);
Photo shows the Monastery of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem

Verses

With Gabriel the first-rank invisible intelligence,
So also the new Gabriel stands before Christ.

What we know of our Venerable Father Gabriel comes to us from the writings of Cyril of Scythopolis, specifically from the Life of Saint Euthymios, where the following is written:

"The great Euthymios himself did not want to make his place a cenobitic house or even a lavra; when people came to him wishing to renounce the world, he would send them to the blessed Theoktistos in the monastery below, as he did with those who wished to make some offering. But when God chose to make this place inhabited, he sent first of all three brothers in the flesh, who were of Cappadocian origin and Syrian rearing, and preeminent in all spiritual knowledge - Kosmas Chrysippos and Gabriel. When these men begged to remain with him, he would not accept them; three things prevented him - his love of solitude, their youth, and the fact that Gabriel was a eunuch from birth. That night, however, he had a vision of someone saying to him, 'Accept these brothers, since God has sent them, and stop repelling those wishing to be saved.' At this the Saint accepted them, and said to Kosmas, the eldest of them, 'See, I have acted as God has commanded me. But take care not to let your youngest brother come near my cell, for because of the warfare of the enemy it is not right for a feminine face to be found in a lavra. As for you, I do not think you will stay here long, since you are destined to become in time shepherd of the Church of Scythopolis.'"

Further on we read:

"One holy Sunday Euthymios was offering the bloodless sacrifice to God, while Domitian was standing to the right of the altar and holding the liturgical fan. As he was performing the anaphora, Terebon the Saracen, who was standing near the altar with his hands resting on the sanctuary rails, suddenly beheld fire descend from heaven, which spread out over the altar rather like a veil and concealed the great Euthymios and the blessed Domitian, remaining there from the start of the doxology of the Trisagion till its completion. No one saw this miracle save those within the fire and Terebon and also Chrysippos' brother Gabriel, a eunuch from birth, who after twenty-five years had now for the first time advanced forward in the church, as was related to me by Abba Kyriakos the anchorite, who received an accurate account of this from Telebon and Gabriel." (Terebon, as a layman, was standing in the narthex. Gabriel, as a eunuch, had, until then, remained in the porch with women and children, because of his unbearded face.)

After Empress Eudocia built the Monastery of the Protomartyr Stephen, we read the following:

"Meanwhile blessed Eudocia, summoning the brothers of the guardian of the Cross who were at the lavra of the great Euthymios, had them ordained priests of the Holy Church of the Resurrection; taking Gabriel under her wing, she made him superior of the Venerable Monastery of the Holy Protomartyr Stephen, while Chrysippos achieved eminence at the Holy Resurrection and left behind many writings worthy of full approval."

In the year 460, Empress Eudocia sought to meet with Saint Euthymios, "to benefit from his prayer and teaching," however because Euthymios would not take female visitors, Eudocia sent Gabriel to him to make the request. Euthymios responded to Eudocia through Gabriel that because she would soon repose in the Lord, she should not concern herself with seeing him, but to prepare herself for her death, and to remember him after her departure that the Lord also would receive him in peace. Among the things she did to prepare for her death was have the Church of the Protomartyr Stephen consecrated, assigned to it a large income, and set Gabriel in charge of all the administration.

Later we are told the following of Saint Gabriel:

"Gabriel continued for twenty-four years as a priest of the Holy Resurrection and superior of Saint Stephen's. He built himself a small hermitage on the eastern slope of the revered hill of the holy Ascension; he used to withdraw from there from the leavetaking of the holy Theophany and live in solitude till Palm Sunday, following the tradition of our holy father Euthymios. At the age of eighty, having become a worker of miracles, he died in this very hermitage during the season of Lent and was buried there. Being highly studious, he had learnt to speak and write accurately in Latin, Greek, and Syriac." We are also told that he attended the funeral of Saint Euthymios.


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