Welcome to Week 3 of Monday’s Angel, an eight week series on angels in Christianity.
Today we meet the second of the seven named Archangels in the bible.
The Holy Archangel Gabriel is one of the seven great angels who stand before the throne of God.
He is believed to preside over the 1st heaven (which is closest to humanity) and is the bearer of God’s secret messages to His chosen ones. Gabriel is the patron saint of midwives, nurses, doctors, and all those who provide care throughout pregnancy and childbirth, messengers and all forms of communication and media.
The name Gabriel comes from the Hebrew meaning “Man of God.” It has also been translated as “God is mighty” or “the strength of God.”
The Messenger of God
Gabriel is known as the Messenger of God. His most important role has been revealing to humanity the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ by:
- Announcing the birth of the Theotokos (Mother of God) to her parents Joachim and Anna.
- Visiting Joseph in a dream, telling him that Mary’s pregnancy was indeed miraculous and that he should protect and care for her.
- Appearing to the shepherds near Bethlehem, telling them of the Nativity.
- Some also believe that he will also announce the Second Coming of the Lord by blowing a trumpet.
Gabriel explained to Daniel his vision of a ram and a billy-goat foretelling Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia and a prophecy foretelling the freeing of the Israelites. It has also been suggested that Gabriel is the angel who wrestles with Jacob in the form of a man and that he was involved in the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah. Enoch says that Gabriel was sent to destroy the giant children of the fallen ‘watchers’ and did so by turning them against each other In ‘Paradise Lost’.
Gabriel was present during the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. According to Church Tradition, when the Lord prayed to the point of sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Him from the Heavens.
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. (Luke 22:43).
Most importantly, it was Gabriel who announced Christ’s Resurrection to the Myrrh-bearing Women outside the tomb.
In Judaism, according to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 95b) it was Gabriel who destroyed the armies of Sennacherib “with a sharpened scythe which had been ready since Creation.”
It is also written that Gabriel prevented Queen Vashti from appearing naked before King Ahasuerus and his guests in order to bring about the election of Esther in her place.
It was Gabriel who dealt death and destruction to the sinful cities of Sodom and Gommorah.
In Islam, it is believed that Gabriel dictated the Koran to Mohammed and presented the Black Stone of the Kaba to Abraham in Mecca. To this day thousands of people travel to Mecca to kiss this stone.
In the Orthodox Church Gabriel’s feast day is celebrated on March 26 and July 13. It is believed that the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel was transferred from March 26 to July 13 so that it could be celebrated more festively than in the period of the Great Fast.
In the Roman Catholic Church Gabriel shares his Feast day with Michael and Raphael on September 29.
There is a tradition that Gabriel is the Angel of Birth.
It is said that he carefully spends the nine months of the pregnancy watching over each unborn child and instructing that child on the necessary knowledge of Heaven that is an inherent part of all people.
Just before birth, though, Gabriel touches each baby on the upper lip to make the child unable to remember all of the information about Heaven until the child returns to the spiritual state at death.
The sign of Gabrielâ€™s Touch is the cleft just below the nose.
Joan of Arc credits Gabriel with the inspiration to challenge the King of France in her court testimony.
Gabriel is usually portrayed with certain distinguishing characteristics. He typically wears blue or white garments; he holds either a lily (representing the Theotokos), a trumpet, a shining lantern, a branch from Paradise presented to him by the Theotokos, or a spear in his right hand and often a mirrorâ€”made of jasper in his left hand.