Gavriil of Belostok

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Gavriil Belostoksky

Gavriil Belostoksky or Zabludowsky (alternatively Gavrila or Gabriel, Russian: Гавриил Белостокский) (April 2 O.S. 1684 - April 20, 1690) is a child saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. The legend of his death describes a ritual murder which has been described as a blood libel. His feast day is held on April 20[1][2] / May 3.[3][4]

The revival of his cult in Belarus and Russia in the 1990s raised concerns among some human rights organizations.

Legend and canonization[edit]

According to the legend, the six-year-old boy was kidnapped from his home in the village of Zverki, 13 km from Zabłudów, Grodno Uezd (then Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, today's Poland) during the Jewish Passover, while his parents, pious Orthodox Christians Peter and Anastasia Gavdel (Гавдель), were away. Shutko, a Jewish arendator of Zverki, was accused of bringing the boy to Białystok, poking him with sharp objects and draining his blood for nine days, then bringing the dead body back to Zverki and dumping it in a local field.[5]

In 1755 his relics were transferred to Slutsky Monastery of Saint Trinity (Слуцкий Свято-Троицкий монастырь), Minsk Guberniya, attached was a placard blaming Jews for his death. His cult developed and spread throughout the Russian Empire, and the boy was canonized in 1820. He is considered the patron saint of children.[5] In the 1930s the relics were transferred to the Minsk museum of Atheism[citation needed]. In 1944, they were moved to Grodno, where they stayed until 1992, when they were moved to Białystok (Свято-Никольский собор) where they are still the focus of pilgrimages.[5]

Used to foment antisemitism[edit]

In the 1990s, a number of publications, as well as radio and TV broadcasts in Belarus revived the blood libel. Among the publications that have propagated the ritual murder charges were Soviet Byelorussia and the Orthodox Church's Tsarkounae Slova (Word of Church), which in 1992 advised its readers to "be aware of cruel cults, where human sacrifices are being practiced" and it identified Jewish Hasidism as such a cult.[6]

On July 27, 1997, on All Saints Day, Belarusian state TV showed a film which alleged that the story is true.[7]

According to a report by First deputy of Euro-Asiatic Jewish Congress Dr. Yakov Basin published by the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) in 1997,

Contemporary accounts, which claim that Jews murdered a boy in a ritual manner in order to use his blood, are resurrecting the medieval canard that Jews use the blood of Christian babies for their ritual purposes during pre-Passover days. On April 11, 1690, a few days before the beginning of Passover, 6 year-old Gavril Belostoksky allegedly was found murdered and drained of his blood in his village of Zverki, which was at the time a Belarusian town, but is now in Polish territory. Soon thereafter, the accusation that he had been murdered by Jews who needed his blood to bake matzoth was spread throughout Belarus. The libel was bolstered in 1844 in Vladimir Dal's book, "Investigation of the Murder of Christian Babies by Jews and the Use of Their Blood." The Russian Orthodox Church canonized Gavril in the 20th century as the patron saint of sick children; he is commemorated in the beginning of each May. Needless to say, no evidence has ever been presented to support this defamation of the Jewish people.[8]

The revival of the cult in Belarus was cited as a dangerous expression of antisemitism in international reports on human rights and religious freedoms[9][10][11][12][13] and were passed to the UNHCR.[14][15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Great Synaxaristes: (Greek) Ὁ Ἅγιος Γαβριὴλ ὁ Μάρτυρας. 20 Απριλίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  2. ^ OCA - Feasts and Saints. Childmartyr Gabriel of Bialystok. Retrieved: 2012-01-20.
  3. ^ April 20/May 3. Orthodox Calendar (PRAVOSLAVIE.RU).
  4. ^ May 3/April 20. HOLY TRINITY RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH (A parish of the Patriarchate of Moscow).
  5. ^ a b c (Russian) Saint Gavriil Belarusian Orthodox Church]
  6. ^ "Blood Libel" Documentary Broadcast in Belarus - The Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) Action Alert - campaign against antisemitic programming on state TV. September 16, 1997
  7. ^ (Russian) Is the New in the Post-Soviet Space Only the Forgotten Old? by Leonid Stonov, International Director of Bureau for the Human Rights and Law-Observance in the Former Soviet Union, the President of the American Association of Jews from the former USSR (Vestnik magazine)
  8. ^ July 1997. Blood Libel Accusation Revived Belarus Report, Dr. Yakov Basin, August 10, 1997. UCSJ Position Paper. Belarus - Chronicle of Antisemitism. April–December, 1997.
  9. ^ Belarus. International Religious Freedom Report 2003 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
  10. ^ Belarus. International Religious Freedom Report 2004 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
  11. ^ Belarus. International Religious Freedom Report 2005 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
  12. ^ Belarus. International Religious Freedom Report 2006 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
  13. ^ Annual Report on International Religious Freedom 2004
  14. ^ UNHCR - U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2006 - Belarus
  15. ^ UNHCR - Refworld Redirect

External links[edit]