St Gabriel I the Patriarch

Saint Gabriel I, Patriarch of Serbia (family name Raicha), occupied the cathedra in the mid-seventeenth century, a time when the Moslem fanaticism had become intense. In the urgent need for both cathedral and country the saint went to collect alms at Walachia, and from there to Moscow.

In Moscow in 1655, he was present with the Patriarch of Antioch at a Church Council which sought to correct various aspects of church service books in accord with the Greek and Old Slavonic texts. The saint brought several manuscripts and three liturgies printed in the south as gifts to the Russian Church.

The saint returned to Serbia with generous alms for his Church and country. His cathedra had been given to another occupant, and moreover, Austrian Jesuits had slandered him with treason before the vizier. The saint’s innocence was obvious, because the vizier pretended he would spare his life and grant him an important official position, if the saint would betray his faith in the Savior.

“I am completely innocent of state crimes,” said St Gabriel, “this you admit yourself. I shall never agree to save my life by betraying the Christian Faith while I remain of sound mind. Keep your riches and honors, for I don’t need them.” After harsh torture, St Gabriel was hanged in October 1659.

In the general service of the Serblyak (collective services to Serbian saints) on August 30 are also remembered: St Iakov, Archbishop of Serbia (February 3, 1292), the holy Bishop Gregory (a descendant of the renowned Nehemanicha lineage), and also the saints: Archbishop Sava III (1305-1316), and the Patriarchs Cyril, Nikon, John, Maximus.