Gabriel of Białystok
St. Gabriel of Belostok
|Born||April 2, 1684|
|Died||April 20, 1690 (aged 6)|
|Venerated in||Polish Orthodox Church|
Russian Orthodox Church
|Patronage||Children; sick children|
|Controversy||cause of death|
Saint Gabriel of Białystok (Polish: St. Gabriel Białostocki, Russian: Гавриил Белостокский - St. Gavriil Belostoksky or St. Gabriel of Zabłudów, Polish: Gabriel Zabłudowski, alternatively Gavrila or Gavriil; April 2 O.S. 1684 - April 20, 1690) is a child saint in the Russian Orthodox Church and possibly the youngest saint. 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 (of the Julian Calendar which equates to May 3 of the Gregorian Calendar).
Life and canonization
According to Church tradition, the six-year-old Gabriel 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 Govdel, 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.
When his relics were transferred in 1755 to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Slutsk (Слуцкий Свято-Троицкий монастырь), in the Minsk Guberniya, attached was a placard blaming Jews for his death. His cult developed and spread throughout the Russian Empire, and he was canonized in 1820. He is considered the patron saint of children. In the 1930s the relics were transferred to the Minsk Museum of Atheism. 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.
Used to foment antisemitism
According to a report by the first deputy of the Euro-Asiatic Jewish Congress, Dr. Yakov Basin, and published by the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) in July 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.
In the same month as the UCSJ report, Belorussian state television aired a film continuing to propagate this blood libel.
The revival of the cult in Belarus was cited as a dangerous expression of antisemitism in US State Department reports on human rights and religious freedoms and were passed to the UNHCR.
- Great Synaxaristes: (in Greek) Ὁ Ἅγιος Γαβριὴλ ὁ Μάρτυρας. 20 Απριλίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
- OCA - Feasts and Saints. Childmartyr Gabriel of Bialystok. Retrieved: 2012-01-20.
- April 20/May 3 Archived 2014-03-24 at the Wayback Machine. Orthodox Calendar (PRAVOSLAVIE.RU).
- May 3/April 20. HOLY TRINITY RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH (A parish of the Patriarchate of Moscow).
- (in Russian) Saint Gavriil Belarusian Orthodox Church]
- July 1997. Blood Libel Accusation Revived Archived 2006-05-08 at Archive.today Belarus Report, Dr. Yakov Basin, August 10, 1997. UCSJ Position Paper. Belarus - Chronicle of Antisemitism. April–December, 1997.
- Stonov, Leonid (2 September 1997). Неужели новое на постсоветском пространстве - это только незабытое старое? [Is the New in the Post-Soviet Space Only the Forgotten Old?]. Vestnik (in Russian) (19(173)).
- Belarus. International Religious Freedom Report 2003 Archived 2007-09-07 at the Wayback Machine Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
- Belarus. International Religious Freedom Report 2004 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
- Belarus. International Religious Freedom Report 2005 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
- Belarus. International Religious Freedom Report 2006 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
- Annual Report on International Religious Freedom 2004 Archived 2010-01-06 at the Wayback Machine
- UNHCR - U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2006 - Belarus
- UNHCR - Refworld Redirect
- (in Russian) National-Patriotic Tendencies in the Belarusian Media by Vyacheslav Feigin, Yakov Basin. The "Judaica Rossica" series, #2.
- (in Russian) Святой Гавриил biography of St. Gavriil, Белорусская Православная Церковь
- (in Russian) Is Judeophobia Ever Going to End in Belarus? by David Meltser (Vestnik magazine)
- (in Russian) Antisemitism in Belarus (2005) by Yakov Basin
- (in Greek) Great Synaxaristes: Ὁ Ἅγιος Γαβριὴλ ὁ Μάρτυρας. 20 Απριλίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.