At the height of Soviet power, in 1965, he tore down a portrait of Lenin in a central square and lit it on fire, and was almost stoned to death by a furious crowd. His many miracles are even more astonishing.
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St. Gabriel is a genuine phenomenon in the Russian speaking world. A popular Russian priest, Fr. Andrei Tkachev, recently described him as the most famous Georgian of the 20th century (a direct comparison to Stalin). His popularity is due to his eye-popping life story (most of his labors were during the Soviet period), his simple message to the world centered on love, and many reported miracles which occurred both during his life and to those who pray at his icons and at his tomb, which is in a monastery about half an hour outside the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.
Icons and photographs of him can be found everywhere in Georgia: in churches, schools, cars and buses. Georgians him “the great love and wonder of the 20th century.”
He is very popular in Russia, with countless articles and many short films relating his story, and the testimonies of people who knew him and followed him. Russian Christian television channels and media are full of reports about him on his memory day, (November 2).
Here is an English language documentary about him:
Of all of the national Orthodox churches in the world, the Georgian is one of the most conservative and true to the faith, in sharp distinction to the secular government, which is fully on board with the globalist program, basically a proxy of the US.
An icon showing Urgebadze slaying Lenin, depicted as a serpent. See below for details of the story.
However, the Georgian regime is also strongly at odds with a majority of the Georgian people, many of whom are deeply Christian in faith and conservative-traditional in social values. The church is a powerful opposition to the globalist agenda, and it is Georgia, particularly its capital city of Tbilisi, which as seen the strongest and most violent street protests in the world against the satanic sodomite globalist agenda. The Georgian church also successfully defied the Covid lockdowns, vaccine, and mask tyranny, simply refusing to play along on the grounds that it violated church teachings.
A Russian Christian TV segment about him. (In Russian) (Backup link)
The Georgian people are notably a fiery lot - proud, brave, and martial, where the men are macho and the women demure, as in their Islamic statelet neighbors, not likely to take too kindly to the gender bending inanity coming from the West, producing many great defenders of the faith among priests and bishops. In this respect, Urgebadze becomes more understandable.
Here is his life story:
St. Gabriel, lived in the XX century, at the time of an aggressively atheist regime. For testifying about God, Fr. Gabriel was sent to jail, then had to spend some time in a psychiatric ward and ended his life in Samtavro - one of the most ancient Orthodox monasteries in Georgia, built in a place where Saint Nino, Equal-to the-Apostles, taught Christianity to Georgia in the IV century.
Despite all trials and tribulations, he had gone through, Fr. Gabriel Urgebadze was filled with love for all people coming his way and insisted that Love is the ultimate goal of our lives.
He was glorified as a saint 17 years since his death – exceptionally soon, by all standards.
Goderdzi Urgebadze was born on August 26, 1929, in Tbilisi, Georgia. His father, a staunch communist, died when the boy was two. From the very start, Vasiko – his family members used to call him his father’s name - was quite special. He went to school when he was six and excelled in reading, writing and math. When he was seven, he got hold of the Gospel. This appeared to be a turning point in his whole life. He kept reading his Gospel having lost all interest in other activities. Young as he was, he spent a lot of time praying, though the rest of the family was hardly religious.
Georgia was then part of the Soviet Russia, where religion was persecuted; churches were destroyed and believers were sent to jail, some of them executed. People used to hide their icons out of fear, many failed to handle them with proper respect. Little Vasiko used to come to these people and say:
“You have an icon in your house (at that moment he pointed exactly to the place, where it was kept). You should either handle it with respect or give it to me. I’ll keep it. Later, if you want it back again, come to me and I’ll gladly return it to you”.
As he got older, he started to attend church services, all on his own. His mother was not very happy with his fervent religious sentiment and did not support it.
In 1949 Vasiko was called up for military service in border guard units. While there, despite strict discipline, he still managed to get away to St Nicholas church occasionally to attend service. When he returned home in two years’ time, he was soon called to the psychiatric ward. After a brief examination, he was diagnosed with mental disability, because “he believed in God and Angels”. They said he was unfit to work at any position and issued him a monthly disability allowance.
The good news was that this gave Vasiko an opportunity to devote all his time to spiritual exercise. And he used it all right! With his own hands, he built a small church in his own backyard. Inside its walls were covered with icons, which Fr. Gabriel brought from dumps and restored. In January 1955, he was ordained a deacon, and in a month’s time, he was tonsured in Motsameta monastery (Kutaisi) with a name of Gabriel. Three days later, he was ordained as hieromonk – a monk, who is also a priest.
Ten years passed, and in 1965 Fr. Gabriel, 36, did something quite extraordinary: he tore down and put on fire a huge portrait of Lenin, with a sign “Glory to Lenin”, which was hanging on the building of the Georgian government. He then explained: “There is no glory for this dead, but glory to Christ, who died for us and blessed us with eternal life.” The crowd got furious. They almost stoned the monk to death, and it was special police, which actually saved his life. With 17 fractures of skull and other parts of the body, Fr. Gabriel was taken to a jail hospital.
As soon as he recovered, interrogations began. Security demanded that Monk Gabriel had to testify about the alleged conspiracy in the Georgian Orthodox Church. In return they promised him to save his life, for he was about to get the death sentence. Fr. Gabriel stood firm, called Lenin a beast and was severely beaten again. News of his detention spread, and instead of receiving the death sentence, Fr. Gabriel was sent to an insane asylum, a not uncommon fate for dissidents of the time. After 7 months in detention, he was released. From that time on Fr. Gabriel became a Fool for Christ*. He often pretended to get drunk and started to preach in the streets.
* A Fool for Christ is concept from the Russian Christian world, going back for many centuries, where some people behave in a way that you would expect a mentally unwell person might act, especially in public, but who at the same time speak the truth about Christianity. Many of them had the gift of prophecy and healing. Many have been canonized as saints.
His sister Julietta Mikhailovna Varyan recalls:
- I was very worried, because people often thought he was drunk. And when I started going to church, I thought I knew everything, so I took the Bible, put a bookmark in 1 Corinthians, and went to see him. I told him: “Gabriel, I want to tell you something.” “Go ahead,” he replied.
I opened the Bible and said to him: “It says here that drunkards won’t inherit the Kingdom of Heaven…” I couldn’t finish what I was saying. He was looking at me with such eyes that I closed the book silently, unable to utter a word… I don’t think I said a single word that whole day.
Four years after Fr. Gabriel left prison and asylum, communist authorities decided to destroy his church. They took it down several times, and each time he restored it. The church has been preserved.
In 1971 Fr. Gabriel was appointed a priest of Samtavro Convent and Seminary. He was given an Old Tower as his permanent home. Father Gabriel sometimes said with true joy:
“By the mercy of Our Savior and Our Lady and by the blessing of two patriarchs I have been given this cell”.
The old tower remained his home till the end of his life. There he received pilgrims as a confessor and served the neighbor with selfless devotion to his duties.
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 elder would receive a large number of guests, he would always see to it that “the professor”—that is what he called 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.
Gabriel tried to conceal his power of miracle-working. However, there are
numerous accounts of miracles, which occurred as a result of his prayer, both
during his lifetime and beyond.
Once, a Georgian, a follower of Hinduism came to visit the elder. To explain to him the nature of the Holy Trinity, Fr. Gabriel took a piece of bread, made a sign of the cross over it in the name of Holy Trinity and the bread miraculously divided into flame, water and wheat. “Look at it and see: the same is with the Holy Trinity in three hypostases: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Then Fr. Gabriel made the sign of the cross again and water, wheat and fire turned into bread. “As this bread is whole and cannot be divided, the same is with the Holy Trinity - one-essence and indivisible.”
He was in permanent effort to bring everyone closer to God. His words filled with divine grace and power warmly penetrated into everyone’s heart. His prayer was always accompanied by abundant tears and therefore no one could be indifferent towards this.
Within years Father Gabriel taught mostly about God and love for neighbor, repentance, humility and kindness.
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 only words. God loves deeds. Good deeds are what love is.
In his last days, Fr Gabriel preached only love and told all his visitors with tears in his eyes: “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 and don’t wait for “tomorrow”, as it is the trap of the Devil. Love each other, as loveless man cannot inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”
One day before his death Monk Gabriel said: “Time has come for my departure.” Then he kissed the icon of Our Savior, hanging over his head with his right hand, kept silence for some time and said: “I follow you, Christ, from 12 years of my age. I am ready, take me!” All that night, till 4 o’clock, he spent in awful pains, then started breathing loudly and called: “Mother, mother; Sister, sister!”
Father Gabriel stared at the icon of St Nicholas of Myra with love. Archbishop Daniel read the prayers for the dying. At the end, Father Gabriel smiled and passed away in peace. Fr. Gabriel died on November 2, 1995. According to his last will, Monk Gabriel was buried in the yard of Samtavro Convent wrapped in sackcloth according to an old monastic tradition.
The inscription on his grave read: “TRUTH IS IN THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SPIRIT” – Monk Gabriel.
The Georgian Orthodox Church canonized elder Gabriel on December 20, 2012. On December 25, 2014 St. Gabriel was included in the calendar of the Russian Orthodox Church. He is venerated by all Orthodox churches. His memory is celebrated on November, 2.
In 2015 an image of St. Gabriel (Urgebadze) has miraculously appeared in the Monastery of St. Nino – the Samtavro. (On floor, lower right of photo)
Here is another good English language article about him from Orthochristian.com.
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