Saint Gabriel the Fool for Christ
Saint Gabriel the Fool for Christ. 5x7" (13x18cm), egg tempera and gold on panel.
Saint Gabriel (1929-1995) showed incredible love for God from his childhood, and devoted his life fully to Christ, during the darkest days of the atheistic and anti-Christian Communist regime in Georgia. He recovered icons and other holy things hidden out of fear. He was conscripted into the Soviet Army, but soon discharged with a pension after he was certified mentally ill for discussing a spiritual experience as a child.
He soon entered monastic life and was ordained a priest. During the 1965 May Day parade in Tbilisi, Saint Gabriel climbed a tall building and burned a huge portrait of Lenin hanging in front of the Council of Ministers. The horrified crowd grew silent and he preached: “Glory is not needed to this dead man, but glory to Christ, who subdued death and blessed us with an eternal life.” He was immediately arrested, tortured and sentenced to death, and was placed in an asylum (as his record showed he was mentally ill), however he was miraculously released only seven months later.
After this, he fully embraced his official psychiatric diagnosis in pretense, and lived among the homeless and preached loudly on the streets. It is said he would walk barefoot through the snow and occasionally wear a copper diadem to stay humble, as people would point and laugh at him. The authorities destroyed his church three times, and he rebuilt it himself three times. He travelled the country to pray in abandoned or destroyed churches and prophesied that they would be rebuilt and reopened.
In 1987, he settled into a hermetic life, living in a chicken coop at Samtavro monastery. He warmly welcomed countless pilgrims and visitors. He would say, “Your life is my life. If you don’t sacrifice yourself for your people, nothing will come out...Remember, God is love. Do as much kindness as you can to save yourself by this kindness. Be modest, as God bestows Mercy upon His humble servants. Repent your sins and don’t wait for “tomorrow”, as it is the trap of the Devil. Love each other; a loveless man cannot inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”
He foretold his death, and spent his last day in silence, caressing the icon of Christ he wore around his neck, and finally said “I’ve followed you, Christ, from 12 years of age. I am ready, take me!” He fell asleep on November 2, 1995. He works many miracles to this day, and is beloved among the Georgian people and Orthodox faithful around the world.
A PRAYER OF MONK GABRIEL
Lord I beg Thee, listen to us from Heaven, turn Thy face to us. Have mercy upon us. Let us walk in peace on Thy path, to fulfill Thy commandments and evade from evil. Lord, teach us to pray in front of Thee and to keep Thy Holy Law. Let our heart be devoted to Thee and let us walk with Thy Holy Law. Amen!
As the Master Christ hid His divinity, clothing it in humanity, and, unseen by us, brought into being His ineffable glory, likewise didst thou hide thy glory by means of foolishness, and by the wonder of thy confession wast shown forth as a shepherd of souls; O venerable Father Gabriel, entreat Christ God to have mercy on our souls.
Read more about him here: https://monkgabriel.ge/eng/life.htm