December 13, 2018

Holy New Hieromartyr Gabriel, Archbishop of Serbia (+ 1659)

St. Gregory the Archbishop of Serbia (Feast Day - December 13)

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite


Lifted up you were hanged mimicking Gabriel,
He who hung on the wood, and crowned with a double crown.

At one time, Gabriel, the angelic-named Archbishop of Serbia, found himself in dire straits, as he was unable to pay the debts of his diocese. He went to Wallachia, and from there to Moscow to receive alms and aid in order to satisfactorily manage his eparchy. During the time that Gabriel was absent from Serbia, a certain Maximos seized the opportunity to usurp the archbishop's throne. When Gabriel returned from abroad, he discovered Maximos in his stead. Therefore he sought to dethrone Maximos and recover his see.

Maximos, however, heaped one sin upon another. He betook himself to the vizier, who at that time was with the ruler of Prusa, and falsely accused blessed Gabriel of conspiring against the vizier's authority. When the vizier heard this accusation, he immediately dispatched men to bring Gabriel before him. After he carefully examined the blessed one, he learned what had transpired between the two men and uncovered the whole truth. In spite of all this, he said to the Saint, "Since you are accused of being a danger to the state, then according to our laws you must die. However if you abandon your faith and accept ours, I will grant you your life, and furthermore, I will bestow upon you the first office in my kingdom, and you will pass a most gratifying, prosperous, and glorious life."

The brave-spirited Gabriel deprecated the choice. After hearing all those paltry offers and recognizing that Maximos was beyond human remedy, he answered, "I have no part in these accusations. Everyone understands that my accuser is attempting by every means to oust me from my diocese so as to secure it for himself. Therefore I die unjustly. But to forsake my faith and embrace yours, in order to escape condemnation, is impossible for me to ever give my consent, as long as I am in my right mind. By the power of Christ I am prepared to undergo a myriad of torments and to perish for His love, not only once, but a hundred times if it were possible. The rank, advantages, and false good things which you have promised me, keep them for yourself."

The executioners took the Saint and began to torture him with many various types of punishments, hoping to make him recant and deny Christ. But the courageous athlete underwent everything with the utmost forbearance and great joy, because he was granted to suffer for Christ, even as Christ suffered for him. In the end, the impious one acknowledged the resoluteness Gabriel possessed for his belief, so they escorted him to a place apart where they hanged him. Thus, on the 13th day of December, in the year 1659, the sacred and thrice-blessed soul surrendered himself into the hands of God, to Whom is due all glory, honor and veneration to the ages. Amen.