In the early morning of January 12, 2023, the Tbilisi bus station was crowded. In addition to domestic routes, coaches also serve international routes from this station. The members of our creative team went to take the Tbilisi-Moscow coach. We were going to Russia to shoot the third film about St. Gabriel and we were taking a reliquary with some relics associated with him to Russia. As always, the icon and the reliquary were noticed. Georgians, Russians, Belarusians and Armenians started asking us what city we were heading for and in what church the relics would stay. Long accustomed to the fact that nothing ever happening according to our plans, we answered, “As God wills and as St. Gabriel blesses us.” So from the very first minutes, rumors were spreading about the beginning of our pilgrimage and the continued shooting of a film about St. Gabriel in Russia. The icon of Sts. Seraphim of Sarov and Gabriel of Samtavro called, “Friendship and Unity in Christ of the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Peoples”, was also taken from Belarus for veneration.
With the blessing of Archbishop Dimitry of Vitebsk and Orsha, we brought all the relics to the Moscow church of the holy Great-Martyr Irene in Pokrovskoye [because there is a Representation of the Exarchate of Belarus at this church.—Trans.]. Words cannot describe the joy and jubilation of the parishioners when they saw the icon at the church. “We have been waiting for you for so long!”, “We are glad to see the icons and relics!”, “We have missed you.” And we all prayed together—we in Georgian, they in Church Slavonic. But together we praised the great saint of our times—St. Gabriel (Urgebadze), who used to say: “My cross is Georgia and half of Orthodox Rus’.” We called those days the triumph of Orthodoxy. There were tears of joy, new miracles, and a feeling, or rather, another confirmation that in Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew (Col. 3:11).
One day, after celebrating a prayer service with the akathist in Church Slavonic and Georgian, we opened the reliquary with the relics associated with Elder Gabriel. First, people came up to the priest for anointing, and then to us, and we held the relics associated with the elder to their heads. We drew attention to a woman who was walking with difficulty to the anointing. At first we thought that she had sore legs, but still there was a feeling that some force was stopping her. She was standing as if chained to the same spot and trying to approach the priest. By the grace of God, she nevertheless approached batiushka, he anointed her crosswise with holy oil, and then she stepped back as if someone had pushed her hard. It only lasted a few seconds. Next the woman approached the relics, and something that no one had expected happened. The woman suddenly started spinning, screaming in a terrible voice and speaking in a language unknown to all of us. I cannot say that I was not afraid, but the Lord strengthened me. I prayed to myself in my own words, asking the elder to intercede for the woman and help her. After I had held the relics to her head once again and the priest had sprinkled her with holy water, the woman took a deep breath, calmed down and said loudly in a gentle voice: “Glory to God!” Tears welled up in my eyes—both because she was healed (in the following days she calmly approached the relics) and because of the phrase she had uttered: “Glory to God!” The elder devoted his whole life to the Lord and instructed everyone: “First of all, we must thank the Lord!” Batiushka interceded for the possessed woman, the Lord through the elder’s prayers instantly healed her, and the woman thanked God out loud! Wasn’t it a miracle? Such is the boldness of our venerable father before the Lord!
Throughout the icon’s stay in Moscow, many miracles occurred and healings took place. One day after a prayer service a young lady named Anna came up to us. She was Georgian. Naturally, her joy knew no bounds when she saw the icon and the relics at the church. We talked to her: she was very worried because her relative was going to have an emergency operation on his leg. There was a high probability of amputation. We gave her a cap blessed on the elder’s relics, some holy oil from Samtavro Convent and an icon with a particle of the shrine. A week later, her relative was operated on. Naturally, the operation was successful. The most interesting thing is that when before the operation the doctors looked at the patient’s leg and examined him, they were very surprised. Because in the preliminary examinations there was a high probability of his leg being amputated, but now there was absolutely no risk of amputation at all. The doctors asked him in astonishment how he had been treated. And the patient replied that he had been treated with oil from the relics of the Georgian St. Gabriel (Urgebadze). When Anna informed her parents what a miracle the Lord had performed through batiushka’s prayers, Anna’s mother said that when she was a newborn, she had serious health problems, and she was carried to Samtavro Convent to the elder’s grave. At some point they were noticed by Venerable Gabriel’s cell-attendant, Mother Parasceva, who strictly ordered the baby to be laid on the grave. From that day on all the baby’s health problems disappeared.
At the Moscow Church of Great-Martyr Irene another very interesting event took place, associated with the icon of the Venerable Fathers Gabriel and Seraphim.
The servant of God Sophia testifies:
“My husband and I quarreled after he had forbidden me to continue going to various quack doctors and ‘healers’ in order to get pregnant. To my great regret, I said hurtful words to my husband, referring to the fact that he himself had advised me to look for alternative and folk medicine treatments. He left and said, ‘When you stop believing your quack doctors, then call me again.’ I was so offended that I wasn’t going to call him anymore. I can’t say that we were a church-going or very religious family. About five days passed, and on the internet I came across information that an icon (along with a reliquary) from Georgia would be taken to Moscow, through which many miracles were occurring. I thought, ‘I have nothing to lose. I’ll go and try to receive healing, because many have already found consolation and have been healed.’ I arrived, entered the church, went up to the icon and asked people who these saints were. I did not immediately recognize St. Seraphim of Sarov, and I did not know anything about Fr. Gabriel altogether. I expected that the icon would be streaming myrrh or shining, since it was a wonderworking icon; but not seeing anything like that, I was a little disappointed. But I still kissed it and went back home. On the way I remembered that I had not asked for anything in front of the icon, but I consoled myself with the fact that the icon hadn’t been streaming myrrh or shining, so there was nothing to worry about.
“A few days later I had a strange dream. I was standing in a church with several women, a service was going on, several priests were censing, and another one was standing on the ambo with a cross and repeating the words: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife (Eph. 5:22). When I woke up, my heart was restless. I believed that it was a sign from the Lord that I should make up with my husband and apologize to him.
“I got dressed and went back to St. Irene’s Church so that now I could at least ask the saints to give me strength to make peace with my husband. I walked into the church, went up to the icon and saw… my husband standing in line for the icon! I couldn’t believe how such a coincidence could happen that without saying a word to each other, we both decided to come to the church at the same time. And despite the fact that before that we had attended church once a year. My husband was also very surprised to see me. He venerated the icon, and I followed him. And before I had time to say that I was awfully sorry he handed me the book, Good Elder Gabriel, and said: ‘I bought this book. He’s a Georgian saint. And he’s a miracle worker.’ I was dumbfounded. On the cover I recognized the face of the priest who had said in my dream, Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands. The face on the icon was different, but on the photograph the face was exactly what I had seen in my dream.
“We walked silently out of the church, made peace, went home, and my husband told me, ‘Can you imagine? Let no one say that there is no God. Do you know why I came to that church? I had a strange dream... I was standing in a church, and St. Seraphim of Sarov was serving as a priest there and censing. And some priest came out to the ambo and repeated several times, Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church (Eph. 5:25). I woke up and was extremely agitated. I started searching on the internet where the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov was located and came across information that an icon of Sts. Seraphim of Sarov and Gabriel of Samtavro would be taken to the Church of Great-Martyr Irene. From a photograph I recognized in St. Gabriel the one who had served in the church in my dream. So I went there to venerate the icon and was going to call you to make peace.’
“I was trembling, and tears were flowing from my eyes. And I likewise told my husband about my dream. We went to venerate the icon almost every day, and then travelled to Ekaterinburg to visit my husband’s parents for a week. We told a priest we knew, a relative of ours, about our dreams, and he told us that it was St. Gabriel who reconciled us and read us the verses from the Gospel in the marriage service. On learning that we were not married in church yet, he advised us to do it. Some time later we got married in church, began to attend services, and just a few weeks ago we learned that I was pregnant. I can’t hold back my tears as I look at the icon of the elders, which we purchased and put in the most prominent place in our apartment. We went to Diveyevo Convent, venerated St. Seraphim of Sarov’s relics, and soon we are going to Georgia to venerate St. Gabriel’s relics, because they interceded for us, supporting us in such a friendly way. It is no coincidence that the icon is called ‘Friendship in Christ of the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Peoples.’”
To be continued...