Elder Gabriel (Urgebadze): His Life, Miracles, and Service after his Death
Monk-Confessor Gabriel (Urgebadze)Mtskheta: the ancient capital of Georgia. This small town attracts tourists and pilgrims – and not without reason. The famous Djvari, Zedazeni, Svetitskhoveli, and Samtavro monasteries are here. It is to Samtavro Women’s Monastery that a torrent of suffering people flows in a continuous stream. They come to the grave of Starets1 Gabriel (Urgebadze), who was glorified in the choir of saints of the Georgian Church on December 20, 2012. This occurred an unbelievably short time after his repose—17 years later.
In 2006, the Mount Athos Publishing House ("Svyataya Gora") published a beautiful book entitled “The Elder’s Diadem.” You don’t read this book, you devour it—it’s impossible to tear yourself away from it. The starets was called “the great love of the twentieth century.” He often wore a placard around his neck that said, “A man without love is like a pitcher without a bottom.”
A Man Full of Love
Aliis inserviendo consumor.
The holy2 confessor Gabriel (Urgebadze) was born on August 26, 1929. His name in the world was Goderdzi. For a long time, his mother was against her son’s aspiration to monasticism, but towards the end of her life she reconciled herself with his choice, and subsequently she herself took the veil. She also was buried at Samtavro Monastery.
Goderdzi came to believe in God while he was still a child. One time the neighbors were fighting, and one of them said, “You have crucified me like Christ.” The boy began to wonder what “crucified” meant, and Who Christ was. The adults sent the child off to the church, where the church warden advised him to read the Gospel. He saved up his money, bought a Gospel, and in a few years had learned the text practically by heart.
A longing for monasticism arose in him in his youth. Later, the elder would say, “There is no greater heroism than monasticism.” And he proved this by his whole life.
He took monastic vows when he was 26, receiving the name of Gabriel, after St.3 Gabriel of Mt. Athos, the starets who had walked through the water and brought to shore the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, which had floated to Athos over the sea. Fr. Gabriel especially revered the wonderworking copy of the Iveron Icon kept at Samtavro Monastery.
Fr. Gabriel built a church with several cupolas in the courtyard of his home on Tetri Tskaro Street in Tbilisi. He erected it with his own hands and finished around 1962. Fr. Gabriel found the icons for this church at the town dumps, where in those atheistic times people brought and threw out, along with the trash, a large number of sacred objects. Sometimes he wandered around the dumps days on end. He had a small studio where he cleaned the icons and gave them frames and settings of various materials. The walls of his church were covered with icons. He even framed photographs and pictures of icons from secular magazines.
On May 1, 1965, during a demonstration, Hieromonk Gabriel burned a 12-meter portrait of Lenin which hung on the building which housed the Supreme Council of the Georgian SSR, and he began to preach about Christ to the people who were gathered there. He was severely beaten for this and put into a solitary confinement cell at the Georgian KGB. At the interrogation Fr. Gabriel said that he did it because “it is forbidden to treat a man like God. The Crucifixion of Christ ought to hang where the portrait of Lenin was. And you need to write, “Glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.” In August 1965 Fr. Gabriel was put into a psychiatric hospital for an examination. There he was diagnosed as insane: “A psychopathic individual who believes in God and angels.” They gave him a “white ticket.”4 But after that even more horrible things happened to him. In order to please the authorities, the hierarchs of the Church did not allow him to come into the church and did not let him into the services—they drove him away. Batiushka5 did not have the possibility of receiving Holy Communion, which he wanted with all his heart. He could go several days without food, could go a long time without sleep, but he could not live without the Church. And the starets often cried out of powerlessness, opening his soul to his sisters.
Before Mother Theodora became Abbess, Fr. Gabriel brought her with him to Tbilisi and made her go begging. The two of them would beg for alms, but then the elder would distribute everything to the poor. If they took a taxi back, he might shout at the taxi driver and give him no money at all, or he might pay many times more than he owed.
During Holy Week the sound of continuous weeping could be heard coming from his cell. While he was praying, some people saw him rise 15–20 inches off the ground and saw light coming from him. The faithful revered Fr. Gabriel as a great ascetic and they would come to him as to a living saint. When the starets would receive a large number of guests, he would always see to it that “the professor”—that is what he call red wine—was on the table. He would generously treat his guests, while he himself ate almost nothing. Father used to say that you have to be nourished with Divine love, and not just on food.
Otar Nikolaishvili was Batiushka's spiritual child and often spent time in his cell. Once Fr. Gabriel unexpectedly said to him that they had to go right then and there to the Monastery of St. Anthony Martkopsky—that it was urgent. Otar didn't know what to say: his car wasn't working right, he was having problems with it. Batiushka insisted, and somehow they started out. Then the road began to go up a mountain, and the automobile began to cough and sputter, but the starets suddenly said, "Don't worry, son—St. Anthony Martkopsky himself is sitting in the back seat—but don't you turn around." And the car suddenly tore off ahead so fast that the driver had to step on the brakes. As soon as they drove in through the monastery gates, the engine cut out on the spot. Just at that time, several armed people came in there looking for trouble. The starets stepped out in front and said, "Shoot me." This embarrassed and sobered the bandits, and they left the monastery.
According to the elder's will, his body was wrapped in a mat and given over to the earth in the place where St. Nina had labored. Fr. Gabriel died on November 2, 1995 of edema. He suffered terribly from the pains, but never showed it.
A countless number of healings began to occur at his grave after his death. All Georgia deeply venerates the elder.
The Samtavro-Transfiguration Church and the Monastery of St. Nina have a website called Starets Gabriel—Confessor of Christ, which is dedicated to Archimandrite Gabriel. Many well-known people have left their comments about him; among them are:
Mother Superior Georgia of the Gorny Convent in Jerusalem: “You have a true starets. You are in Paradise…” and
Schema-Archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko): “Monk Gabriel is the greatest monk.”
From the Sayings of the Elder
Whoever learns to love will be happy. Only do not think that love is an inborn talent. One can learn love, and we must.
Without sacrifice for the sake of the Lord and of our neighbor nothing will come of the spiritual life. You won’t learn to love without sacrifice.
God will not accept empty words. God loves deeds. Good deeds are what love is.
Live so that not only God would love you, but also so that people would love you—there is no greater thing than this.
Last Testament of Archimandrite Gabriel
Glory to Christ God!
I beg the forgiveness and blessing of His All-Holiness and All-Blessedness, the Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia Elias II. I leave my blessing, forgiveness and reconciliation to all the priestly and monastic order. God is Love, but although I have tried hard, I have not been able to attain love for God and neighbor according to the Lord’s commandments. All man’s acquisition of the Kingdom of Heaven in this visible world and the inheritance of Eternity (Eternal Life) consists of love. Bury me without a coffin, in my mantia. Be kind and humble; the Lord remembered us in our humility, for He gives grace to the humble.
Be humble, kind, and loving before every man born into this world by God. I carry away with me love for everyone—both for Orthodox people, and for every man born into this world by God. The purpose of life and of this whole visible world is the acquisition of the Kingdom of God, drawing near to God and inheriting Eternal Life. I wish all of you this. I leave you with my blessing, that no one lose the great mercy of God, and that all of you be vouchsafed the acquisition of the Kingdom. There is no man living who will not sin. I alone am a great sinner, unworthy in every way, and extremely weak. I beseech you from all my love: when you pass by my grave, beg forgiveness for me, a sinner. Dust I was, and to dust I have returned.
Prayer of Elder Gabriel
O Lord, I entreat Thee, hear us from Heaven, look with favor upon us, grant us Thy mercy, let us depart in peace, that we may walk in Thy way, fulfill Thy commandments, and renounce sin. Teach us, O Lord, to pray before Thee and to keep Thy holy law, so that our hearts would become devoted to Thee, and grant that we all would live according to Thy holy law.
At Elder Gabriel’s grave
A grey-green marble tombstone with a cross on top, and a flowerbed. Lots of small icons. An ever-burning lampada. Little bottles with oil. From time to time a young man or young woman takes small bottles of oil from the hands of those who have come up to the grave and tops them off with oil from the lampada, carefully wiping the spilled drops.
Fr. David serves at the grave
Over the grave there is a large canopy, which protects people from the heat in the summer and from the rain in bad weather. Dry, black grains of earth are sprinkled onto the flowerbed; every once in a while they add some more. Two little benches, a light tent—that is where you will always find nun Paraskeva, who was close to the elder and was his cell attendant. She keeps a test tube with his incorrupt blood in it and “anoints” with the sign of the Cross those who come there: pilgrims, tourists, acquaintances and strangers. Many people greet her, and some talk with her for a long time.
There is always a crowd of people at the elder’s grave. On weekends and holidays there is an especially large number. I sat down on a bench and took care of the pilgrims. Everyone’s face was prayerful and attentive. Almost everyone knelt, took off their crosses and rings and put them on the earth. They put the palms of their hands on the grave and knelt there and prayed like that for a long time. They brought babies, and some of them set them down right on the grave for a while. There was a surprisingly large number of young men.
Coming to the starets at his grave every day, I noticed that you could feel a special grace and tranquility. You don’t think about anything, nothing comes to your mind, you don’t worry about anything. There is extraordinary peace in your soul. Georgians call the starets “Mama Gabriel,”7 and I, too, got used to this right away. I cannot explain why I would spend hours on end at the grave. I would often happen to associate with the vivacious and loud-voiced priest who served in Svetitskhoveli, Archpriest David. He jovially greeted all— tourists and pilgrims, acquaintances and strangers. To all Russians he would say, “Welcome! We here in Georgia love you very much and always look forward to seeing you. Come visit us!” Sometimes he would baptize someone, sometimes he would perform a wedding, sometimes he would sell candles at the church bookstore. Catching sight of me, he would ask, “Well, what are your plans? What else have you seen, where have you been?”
Once I asked him if he had known Elder Gabriel. Why, of course, he had known him, and known him very well. He asked me if I knew about the miracle that happened several years after Batiushka’s death—about the test tube with his blood. I didn’t? And he told me the following story:
During the last weeks of his life the elder had serious health problems. He had edema and trouble with his stomach. A doctor came to Samtavro to him, an excellent surgeon, Zurab Georgievich Varazi. Several days before Fr. Gabriel’s death the doctor decided to take some of his blood for testing. At first Fr. Gabriel refused, but when the doctor said that God would punish him if he didn’t start to treat his patient properly, Fr. Gabriel agreed.
He put 10 ml of blood into an ordinary test tube. A colleague of Zurab Georgievich’s got into his car and set off for Tbilisi. On the way the test tube slipped out of his hands, fell, and came uncorked. The blood spilled out and all that remained was 2 ml. In the laboratory they reassured him that 2 ml was plenty, and they did the tests.
The next day Fr. Gabriel got worse—an operation was necessary. But the elder categorically refused. In the evening he died.
A few years later the doctor’s colleague called him and said that he had accidentally found the test tube with the blood they had taken from Fr. Gabriel four years ago, which had been lost when the laboratory was being renovated. And this blood was like fresh blood! Zurab Georgievich couldn’t believe it, so his colleague travelled there to him. Indeed, the blood had not coagulated, dried up, or decomposed. The doctor took one drop with a syringe, did a smear, and brought it to the laboratory. The test showed that everything was normal!
They themselves did not know what they had come across. The doctor travelled to the Patriarch and told him that they had taken blood from Fr. Gabriel four years ago, but that it was still as fresh as if it had been taken yesterday. Wasn’t this a miracle? His Holiness advised them to give this blood over to the earth where Fr. Gabriel reposes. They buried this test tube in the elder’s grave at Samtavro Monastery. Miracles had already begun to occur there, and people who had come from all corners of Georgia took the healing oil and earth back with them. They were constantly unearthing the grave, so Matushka Parasceva, who tended it, took the test tube out of the earth. And now she anoints all the people who come to the grave with it. Or rather, not anoints, but makes the sign of the Cross over them, to be more exact.
Newlyweds take a blessing
One sunny day there weren’t very many people at the grave. Sitting in the shade on the bench under the grape vines that had spread out, I read the Gospel and the Psalter, and took care of the people who came.
I noticed a man who led a rather chubby and somewhat agitated teenager by the hand. The father explained something to his son softly—as if he were trying to persuade him. They came up to the grave and the father tried to get the son to kneel down, but the son suddenly became obstinate, started to balk, and suddenly started to rock and shift from foot to foot—back and forth, back and forth. His movements were getting faster and faster, more and more abrupt. Then Mother Parasceva appeared just in time, and getting out the test tube with the elder’s blood, made the sign of the Cross over the youth’s head with a quick, deft motion. Then something strange happened: the boy let out loud noises, like a horse’s neighing, and took to his heels, but exactly like a horse—at a gallop. The father rushed after him. They reappeared about fifteen minutes later, and the whole scenario was repeated. Then again and again—only each time, the boy approached more and more unwillingly: some kind of force would not let him come near.
After repeated visits to the elder’s grave, amazing incidents began to happen with me. I would say that Mama Gabrieli took me under his protection and began actively to help and look after me. There were very many incidences that convinced me of this. I will relate a few of them:
When I was about to travel to Georgia the second time, my confessor asked me to bring him back a hand-painted icon of Mama Gabrieli. I tried to come to an agreement with Samtavro Monastery, but they refused me: they did not paint icons for private parties. I walked through the shops of Tbilisi—I didn’t like a single icon of him. I began to pray at his grave. And suddenly a young man came out of the tent and asked, “Who here is from Russia? Drop in—Batiushka invites you.”
Surprised, I stepped in. Inside the tent all the walls were covered with icons. My heart skipped a beat. I looked around, and there were Mother Paraskeva, a little old nun on a narrow cot-bed, and—Archpriest David, smiling. He handed me a little bottle of oil and a paper icon of the starets, which was quite large. Only glancing at it, I realized at once that it was precisely this image that would suit my batiushka. Yes… but where could I find an iconographer? I knelt before the grave and asked the elder to help.
The next day in the Kashveti Church I became acquainted with Archpriest Elizbar Otiashvili. During our conversation he introduced me to a young woman by the name of Medea, the mother of four children.
“By the way, she paints icons,” he said.
Thus Medea Davitadze painted a marvellous icon of the elder. I had already gone to Moscow, and the both of us were wondering how to transport it. Suddenly I got a call from a Georgian acquaintance of mine by the name of Mirian, who said that his nephew was flying to Moscow from Tbilisi and would bring the icon. The icon turned out to be striking: the starets, smiling, with a diadem on his head, while on the back was the tropar in Georgian. Batiushka was happy.
The following summer I set off again for Georgia, this time for two months. I arrived in Tbilisi in the second half of the day and I was a little sad that I wouldn’t get to Mtsketa to venerate the elder. To my amazement, my friends said that they were going to Samtavro in the evening to agree on a time for their wedding—and I could come with them! Thus Mama Gabrieli took care of me. We walked in a procession of the Cross with the nuns around the monastery grounds, prayed at the grave, and had a moleben served in the church.
I never part with my little icon of the elder. Living in Borzhomi, I heard a conversation between two women, one of whom mentioned Mama Gabrieli. I couldn’t stand it any longer, and butted in to the conversation:
“What about Mama Gabrieli?”
They explained to me that Mama Gabrieli’s jacket was in one of the churches.
I found out the address and set off for this church right away. It was in the Monastery of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. There was nobody in the church except one nun, who helped me put on the jacket. From the left pocket hung a little silver cross on a chain. When I took off the jacket I saw that a line had already formed in the church. Then a moleben began, and after it I asked a blessing of Batiushka to stay in the monastery for a few days. During these days a great number of unbelievable things happened to me. But the most amazing thing was the fact that this jacket, which Elder Gabriel wore under his monastic mantia, was completely available to us after all the visitors left. Every morning I had the opportunity to drop into the church while the monastery gates were still closed, put on the jacket of the recently-canonized saint, and read my morning prayers. And in the evening, while we were gathered in the reception room near the refectory, eating up the latest cake that the thoughtful parish ladies had brought in, the sisters took turns sitting at the table with this jacket thrown over their shoulders. From time to time a voice was heard:
“Look, you’ve already worn it—give it to me now.”
At Samtavro Monastery some people have told stories of miracles, and of Elder Gabriel’s help. I will cite a few instances of healings from a book I bought at the Monastery entitled Miracles and Healings Given by God, by Otar Nikolaishvili:
"A car ran over the neighbor's child. His skull was broken. The child was doomed to death, the operation lasted four hours. After the operation his face and tongue swelled up. After being anointed with oil from Fr. Gabriel the swelling went down and the child began to come to life. Now they have already discharged him from the hospital, and he feels fine.”
"Last March I was diagnosed with tumors on the breast and internal organs. Almost all of the oncologists insisted on an operation. I went to Fr. Gabriel's grave in order to make a decision. Afterwards I had the following vision: Fr. Gabriel was standing there and smiling at me. I was filled with faith and refused the operation. All the while I kept going to the grave and receiving treatment with the oil. Two months ago I had an examination; nothing resembling a tumor was found in my system, while the doctors had given me all of two weeks to live if I didn't have the operation.”
"They found I had a fibroma and a myoma. I needed to have an operation. Because of my illness I would be unable to speak from time to time. A relative of mine brought me some of Fr. Gabriel's oil. I anointed myself with it twice and felt relief. When I was about to anoint myself with it a third time, I felt that I was losing my speech again. I said to myself, 'It doesn't help'—and that evening I went to bed without anointing myself with the oil. The same night I had a dream. A priest with a large beard came to me at home and said, ‘Here you are lamenting, “It doesn’t help, it doesn’t help”—but what can help you, if you haven’t prayed? Pray, and you will see whether it helps or not. Look at me. I am a priest, and I have a beard. Would I have a beard unless I were a priest? You say that you believe, but you don’t pray—what kind of faith is that? Pray, and you will have help.’
I woke up. I began to anoint myself with the oil, and while doing this I prayed. Yesterday they did an ultrasound and didn’t find a thing. The doctor nearly went crazy out of amazement.”
“In the third month of my pregnancy they did an ultrasound. One could see that a cystic mass had formed in the area of the baby’s stomach. The case was so involved that the doctors strongly advised me to have an abortion. I refused. I began to go to Fr. Gabriel’s grave and to take the oil as treatment. The child was born absolutely healthy. The medical staff was amazed.”
“I had psoriasis—a skin disease. Sores covered my whole body. I couldn’t lie on my back. A neighbor gave me some of Fr. Gabriel’s oil in a little penicillin vial. After the fourth time I anointed myself the disease went away and my skin cleared up.”
“Glory and thanksgiving to the Lord for all things! The Lord has given Fr. Gabriel to us sinners! I suffered for several years from cirrhosis in its most serious form. On November 4, 2004, I visited Fr. Gabriel’s grave. I anointed myself, knelt, and asked his blessing, so that I could be treated in the hospital, because they wouldn’t admit me there. When I returned from the grave, everything worked out so easily that you could call it a miracle. They admitted me to the hospital, did an ultrasound, and found that there was no longer any cirrhosis.”
“A young woman had a first-stage tumor on her cervix. They were supposed to do an operation in a month. During the course of the month, she used oil from Fr. Gabriel’s grave, and when she went into the hospital for the operation, it turned out that there was no longer any tumor. It is a real miracle.”
“I have been going to Fr. Gabriel’s grave since 1997. I came there with firm faith and with a heavy heart that I had not known him during his lifetime. As I went to the grave, radical changes began to occur in my life; visiting Fr. Gabriel’s grave in itself is a miracle. He fulfills all petitions. My mother suffered from a second menopause in old age. I began to give her the oil to drink, and she got well. My mother was not yet a believer. Now she has converted to Christianity. I consider this to be a consequence of taking the oil, and I am grateful to Fr. Gabriel.”
“Oil from Fr. Gabriel’s grave and prayers offered to the Lord on Fr. Gabriel’s grave can accomplish everything: not only can they heal the sick, but also give reconciliation, unite a long split-up family, and draw everyone together by means of grace-filled love. My sister and I and our close family were on bad terms for years, and the prayers of Fr. Gabriel helped us to be reconciled. Now our relations are so good that you might wish them for anyone’s family.”
Nino in Mama Gabrieli's jacket“During the course of a whole year I was tormented by an allergy—I had a rash. I was treated, but without success. With the help of a girlfriend I travelled to Fr. Gabriel’s grave. There was a downpour, but Mother Parasceva came out to us, gave us some oil, and explained to us how to use it. I was anointed with oil and drank some of it. In two weeks I went there again with my husband and friends and got some more oil. After a week I noticed that the rash had completely disappeared and that I had been cured of the allergy.”
“When I anoint myself with Fr. Gabriel’s oil, any pain vanishes. When I returned from the sea, my big toe hurt. Nothing helped except Fr. Gabriel’s oil. My 12-year-old son suffered from stomachaches. I gave him some of Fr. Gabriel’s oil, made the sign of the Cross on his forehead with it, and everything passed. When some problem or other worries me, I sit by his photograph and ask for help. I am a widow, and you can imagine how many problems I have. Thank you very much for everything that you do for me, Fr. Gabriel!”
“I suffered from total bone marrow fibrosis. A year and a half ago the doctors lost all hope of saving me. A yellow liquid was coming out of my bones. I was left to God’s will. I prayed, anointed myself with Fr. Gabriel’s oil, and drank the oil. Three months later results showed. Now I am completely healthy. What is more, I had grey eyebrows and hair. After taking the oil my eyebrows became black, and my hair— dark with grey streaks.”
“A friend of mine had several miscarriages. A delegation from Greece was on a visit to Georgia. One of the guests, a Greek priest, said to her, ‘You have a holy place in Georgia,’ and told her to go to Fr. Gabriel’s grave, and that’s what she did. Some time passed, and she became pregnant.”
“For three years I could not I could not bear a child; all treatment methods were ineffective. I went to Fr. Gabriel’s grave during the Great Fast and asked him to be my intercessor before the Lord. There were a multitude of people at the grave, but Mother Parasceva somehow noticed me and anointed my forehead with oil. I took some oil with me and anointed my forehead with it every day, according to instructions. That month I became pregnant.”
From the words of Maia Koublashvili”
From Letters of Prisoners
“Prisoners who have been healed by Fr. Gabriel’s oil are converting to Christ! Thank you, Lord, for everything!
“At the present time I am a prisoner serving my sentence in the Ksanskaya Colony, in Zone 7. A church to St. Nicholas, where we pray, has been built in our zone. They allocated a cell for me personally by the church, and I serve there. You know what a difficult time it is now. Even for people who are free it is hard to subsist, to provide oneself with medical care, and to resolve other problems; all this is doubly hard for prisoners. Fr. Gabriel has proved to be a great comfort for us at such a time. His wonderworking oil has healed more than one prisoner, and the number of those who have been healed is growing all the time. Fr. Gabriel allowed me to see his wonderworking power more than once. A woman with a 10-month-old son turned up in our zone for a meeting with her husband earlier than planned. The child had fallen severely ill and had a very high temperature. The doctors couldn’t understand what the matter was with the child. They sent for me, and I took some of Fr. Gabriel’s oil with me. When I arrived, the baby, who had up to this time been weakened by the illness, reached out to me. I put some drops of oil on his pinky and made the sign of the Cross on his forehead with the oil. The boy licked his little finger that had the oil on it and soon fell asleep. He woke up completely well. There are many eyewitnesses to this among the prisoners. After that incident, if someone gets sick, they always call me and ask me to anoint them with oil from the lampada on Fr. Gabriel’s grave. In December of 2002 I was dreaming of getting a large picture of Fr. Gabriel. When I woke up in the morning I went to the morning inspection, which I go to very rarely. Suddenly a prison worker motioned to me to come up to him and said that his brother-in-law had sent me a picture of Fr. Gabriel and a calendar. I rendered thanks to the Lord and put up the picture of Fr. Gabriel and the calendar in my cell. In the evening I went to bed. During the day I had been very tired, and I wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t fall asleep at all. In about 10 or 15 minutes I felt that some kind of force was telling me to go out into the yard. I went out and saw my friend standing there, spitting blood. He had become ill. I took him to his cell and asked him to pray with me. He was so bad that he couldn’t even say a prayer. I lit a candle, read the Our Father, and anointed him with the oil, then gave him some oil to drink. After four minutes the pain disappeared and he asked for some tea. He is very grateful to Fr. Gabriel. My wife is a Group II invalid, she has curvature of the spine (scoliosis). In addition to that, she had a large lump right on her spine, which hurt badly; she would lose consciousness from only a touch to this lump. Not taking any other medicine, she was anointed by me twice with Fr. Gabriel’s oil, and she drank some of it. Her spine no longer hurts. We give many thanks to the Lord, and we are grateful to Fr. Gabriel for his help.”
Prisoner Vasiliy Narindoshvili”
“In 1994-1995, as a result of beatings, my left eardrum was ruptured, and blood and pus were always running out of it. I lost my hearing. I learned that oil from the lampada on Fr. Gabriel’s grave miraculously heals the sick. I anointed my ear two times in all, and a miracle occurred. All pain went away, and my hearing returned (80-90%). I had a sore throat. I took Streptocid (sulfanilamide), but without results. As soon as I drank the oil, the pain went away in five minutes. Thank the Lord! I am grateful to Fr. Gabriel for his help.”
Prisoner Guram Managadze”
“I had stomach ulcers, I was often bothered by intense pain. On January 2nd of this year I was really suffering from the pain and was looking for some baking soda to take. The guys helped me to read the Our Father and then made the sign of the Cross on me with Fr. Gabriel’s oil, and let me drink this oil a little. The pain immediately abated. Now I don’t suffer from stomach pains, no matter what kind of food I eat.”
Prisoner Artur Soukasyan”
“My foot was festering, two of my toes were rotting, and nothing was helping. I went to Vasiliy and asked him to anoint me with Fr. Gabriel’s oil. He anointed me with the oil, and in addition sprinkled my foot with earth from Fr. Gabriel’s grave and bandaged it up. The next morning I took off the bandage and saw a miracle: my foot was completely healthy. I am very thankful to Fr. Gabriel.”
Prisoner David Chitaya”
O Holy Monk-Confessor Gabriel, pray unto God for us!
19 / 11 / 2013
1 Starets: Russian for “elder,” a very experienced monk who through long years of obedience and ascetic struggles—and through love and humility—has been given spiritual gifts, often of healing and/or clairvoyance.
2 In Russian: “most [God-]like”—prepodobnyj—used for monastic saints.
3 See Note 2 above.
4 “a white ticket”—a pass that exempts someone from serving in the military.
5 Batiushka—Russian respectful yet endearing term for priest, father.
6 podvig—a ascetic feat or struggle.
7 In Georgian, the words for “mother” and “father” are reversed: mama is “father,” while deda is “mother.”
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