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February 2, 2017

Holy New Martyr Gabriel at Constantinople (+ 1676)

St. Gabriel the New Martyr (Feast Day - February 2)

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite


Gabriel was beheaded for the love of the Lord,
With Gabriel you dance in the celestial realm.

Gabriel, the angel-named Martyr, came from the village of Alloni, in the region of Proikonesos. From an early age he became a monk, and conducted himself prudently and virtuously, attaining the desire and longing of the Martyr Stephen. Having come to the Queen City, he became a preacher of the Great Church.

As holy Lent was approaching, he thought to himself in what way he would be able to chance upon his desired martyrdom. Spending nights in vigil within the Patriarchal church, he supplicated our Lord Jesus Christ, who from a young age he desired with all his soul and heart, to manifest the manner of his martyrdom. One day, after receiving the immaculate mysteries, he pondered how he might find his much-desired Bridegroom Christ, even as the bride in the Song of Solomon. Now he chanced upon a Hagarene along the road who, with customary audacity, rudely pushed the monk out of his way and even off the road so that he might pass. But Gabriel not only pushed him back, but also reviled his religion.

Some Hagarene bystanders heard the insults of the monk. They shouted for their companions to rally round for vindication that he had insulted their faith. So they all rushed forward and set upon the monk. Some grabbed and beat him, while others jostled him about ruthlessly. Bringing him before the judge, they sought a judgment against him. They pressed to have him indicted for cursing Islam. The other Muslims concurred that the complaint was true. Hence, the judge ordered the Martyr to prison, and gave the Muslims a written indictment against him.

In the morning, they removed the Martyr from prison. He was arraigned before the city administrator, since the sultan was with the vizier at Adrianople, where the indictment was submitted in the course of the proceedings. The administrator inquired of Gabriel if, in fact, the text of the indictment were true. The Martyr acknowledged the complaint, saying, "Yes, it is true." The administrator continued, "Man, depart from your faith and enter into ours. Do you not see how much glory and dominion the religion of Mohammad possesses?" The Martyr commented, "May I never come to such madness and ignorance, and say that Christ was but a man; for our Lord Jesus Christ was true God and true Man. Now your own man, I shall never call a prophet! Indeed, I confess and believe that my Christ is true God from true God; but as for your Mohammad, I emphatically declare that he was not a prophet but an ordinary and uneducated fellow. He was a fraud and adversary of our Savior Christ. Consequently, I detest your religion. I have nothing but contempt for it."

The administrator, puzzled, asked him, "O man, perhaps you are drunk? Are you insane?" The Martyr responded, "I am neither drunk, nor have I taken leave of my senses; but by the grace of God I am healthy both in mind and soul." Then the administrator changed his mild tone to a strident one. He angrily said to the prefect, "Take him and behead him." The prefect took the Saint, who was bound, and led him forth to the location called Pachtze-Kapisi, near the customs house. Once there, the Martyr prayed and remained joyful at his beheading. They severed his blessed head, and his holy and all-luminous soul departed to his much-desired and much-loved Bridegroom, our Lord Jesus Christ, that he may receive from Him the triple-plaited crown of virginity, asceticism and martyrdom, so that he may rejoice and be glad in the choirs of the Virgins, Ascetics and Martyrs.

Now his martyred and revered relic, the Hagarenes cast into the sea three days later, so that the pious would not be able to purchase it with money. Thus he was made perfect after many years of labors, and he took hold of what he longed for unto the ages, with its eternal good things. Through his intercessions may we be redeemed from hell, and be found worthy of the kingdom of heaven. Amen.