Zwierki, Białystok County, Poland, May 5, 2022
Two years ago, the Polish Church celebrated the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the relics of the beloved Child-Martyr Gabriel of Białystok.
This year, the Church is celebrating another milestone connected with St. Gabriel: the 30th anniversary of the return of his precious relics from Grodno to his native Białystok.
The feast of St. Gabriel was celebrated by His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw, together with His Eminence Archbishop Jakub of Białystok, His Eminence Archbishop Grzegorz of Bielsko, and His Grace Bishop Andrzej of Supraśl, at the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos Convent in Zwierki, Białystok County, on Tuesday, May 3, reports the Polish Orthodox Church.
Pilgrimages from Białystok and Supraśl reached the monastery in Zwierki for the first time in two years following the COVID pandemic.
During the Liturgy, prayers were read for peace in Ukraine.
In his homily, Abp. Grzegorz emphasized the hymns that speak of all of creation being filled with the light of the Risen Christ, which can fill our hearts as well if we open them to the Lord. However, we must always remember that this light came into the world first through the Cross. “The Holy Fathers teach us that the cross and suffering are our wealth,” the hierarch said.
For the holy Martyr Gabriel, “suffering and pain became wealth, they became a ladder that led him to Heaven.”
Following the Liturgy, a festive Paschal procession was held around the main church of the monastery.
Met. Sawa noted that in this period when the Church continues to celebrate the great miracle of the Resurrection of Christ, the Polish faithful also remember the 20th-century miracle of the return of the relics of St. Gabriel to Białystok and the 21st-century of the canonization of the saints of Podlasie, “who, like little Gabriel, suffered for the Orthodox faith.”
“Celebrating the feast of Pascha and the 30th anniversary of the transfer of the relics of St. Gabriel to his homeland,” which will be specifically commemorated on September 22, “should be an impulse for us today, like never before, to strengthen us in our faith… Prayer at the relics of the saint should build our spiritual life. It’s a gift we have received from God, Who protects us and our homeland against evil,” the Polish primate exhorted.
Photo: wikimedia.org The Child-Martyr Gabriel (+ 1690) was killed when he was only 6 years old. One day when his parents were away, he was lured out of his house by a Jewish tenant named Schutko, who kidnapped him, and stabbed him and drained his blood for 9 days. The man then discarded St. Gabriel’s body in a field near his village.
His incorrupt relics were discovered 30 years later, in 1720, when, during an epidemic, dead children were often buried near St. Gabriel’s resting place, thus venerating his martyrdom and feeling the extraordinary grace flowing from the place. During one such burial, St. Gabriel’s coffin was broken, and when his body was then exhumed, he was found to be incorrupt. Many healings and the cessation of the epidemic are connected with this discovery.
His precious relics were carried in a solemn procession to the church in Zwierki and placed in a crypt in the basement.
September 22 marks the commemoration of the transfer of his relics from Grodno to Białystok in 1992.