This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 3 -- Feast of Saint Gabriel Gowdel

15k on these legs?
There's a nice children's pilgrimage -- a 15k walk (or 9+ miles), really -- to commemorate Saint Gabriel Gowdel.  As a kid, kneeling in prayer, attending Mass, and the other sedentary rituals did not move me much.  I think an annual pilgrimage in early May sounds like a solid way to help kids connect to religious practice.  I'm not so heretical that I'd tear down the church to build a gym or have a basketball game instead of Mass, but an annual beach clean-up for Saint Joseph the Worker (May 1) or a Fun Run for Athanasius where you have to flee from one town to another could be good.

Perhaps the person who posted the info in English used an on-line translator, or perhaps their English (while immeasurably better than my Polish), is a little strained.  Anyway, here's why it is a pilgrimage and not just a hike.  "Pilgrims walked at intention of the health to himself and their family, parents prayed for their childrens, and youth prayed for a success in the school, special on the examinations."

Gabriel was a quiet, contemplative kid living in Zwierki (which is sometimes in Poland and sometimes in Belarus, depending on which way the wind is blowing) from 1684 to 1690.  He might have been on track for the priesthood, but it is hard to tell with a six-year-old.  He was tortured and murdered in the woods -- this was the last case of blood libel presented in an earlier post on the subject. 

The relic in Saint Nicola's
They figured that Gabriel's (Gavril's) body had been lying out for nine days, but no corruption or putrefaction had begun.  It was surrounded by dogs, who were guarding against the birds that might have fed on it.  The little corpse was buried near the town church, where it remained undisturbed for thirty years.

At the outbreak of the plague, it comforted parents to bury dead children near the grave of Gabriel.  With all the digging, someone uncovered the little saint's corpse, and it was found to be incorrupt, even after thirty years in the ground.  Plainly, this was a holy relic rather than a corpse.  When the relic was taken from the ground, the plague (coincidentally?) lifted; sick folks recovered and no one else caught the bug. 

They transferred the body to a crypt in the basement of the church in Zwierki.  Twenty-six years later, the church burned down.  Most of the relic (corpse) was unharmed, but one hand was burned.  Miraculously, as the relic was being translated to another church, the skin grew back over the hand.

During the First World War and the subsequent suppression of religion by the Soviet Union, the relic was translated many times.  In 1992, there was a big translation -- with all saintly pomp -- from Grodno to Saint Nicola's Church in Bialystock-Dojlidy.  The pilgrimage begins at Saint Elijah's and ends in Zwierki, which is better than walking from Grodno to Zwierki. 

No comments:

Post a Comment