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Child Martyr Gabriel (Davidovskiy) Icon - S534

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Saint Gabriel was born on March 22, 1684, in Zvierki (Zwierki, Poland). His parents, Peter and Anastasia, maintained their Orthodox faith despite the growth of Uniatism in the region. As a child, Gabriel preferred prayer and solitude rather than the games the other children would play. He had a gentle and trusting spirit.

When he was six years old, Gabriel was lured out of his house and kidnapped by a Jewish lease-holder named Schutko and taken some 8 miles (13 km) to Białystok, where he was brutally tortured for nine days. The city's investigation found he died of his injuries on April 11, 1690, and his body was dumped in a field near Zvierki. 

On the Sunday of Holy Pascha (April 20 that year), his body was found, and it had been untouched by animals; rather some of the wild dogs seemed to be guarding it against the vultures. The community was deeply shaken and laid Gabriel's body to rest in near the cemetery church. Over the subsequent decades, he came to be venerated as a martyr on account of his innocent suffering and the grace present at his grave.

Around 1720, in the midst of an epidemic, as graves for the city's children were being dug, Gabriel's grave was accidentally disturbed. His relics were found to be incorrupt, and popular veneration for the martyr spread rapidly. His relics were translated to the village church in Zvierki.

The church burned down in 1746, but the relics were unharmed. They were transferred to Zabludov, and then in 1755 to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Slutsk. He was officially glorified as a saint of the Church in 1820.

Saint Gabriel's relics were translated several more times to avoid the violence of the World Wars and the Soviet authorities. Finally, in 1992, his wonderworking relics were enshrined in the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Białystok, the place of his martyrdom, where they remain today as a site of pilgrimage.

His primary feast is celebrated on April 20. The 1755 translation of relics is commemorated on May 9, and the 1992 translation is commemorated on September 22. He is a patron saint of children and an example for all of a childlike faith that suffers all things for the sake of Christ.

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