GABRIEL I, SAINT, fifty-seventh patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (909-920). Gabriel was from the village of Ilmay (Amélineau, 1893, pp. 162-63), in the Minufiyyah province in Lower Egypt. He decided to become a monk in the monastery of Saint Macarius (DAYR ANBA MAQAR) at a rather early age. The HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS reviews his life succinctly from the time of his consecration, but it tells us nothing about his secular career before he took the monastic vow.
In the monastery, however, he is said to have had a tendency toward solitude. Nevertheless, a prophecy was made for him by a saintly elder named Dorotheus, to whom the brethren congregated for blessings. All sat around this saintly man to hear his lessons except Gabriel, who usually withdrew for solitary contemplation. Once Dorotheus held his hand and, smiling, said to him that a time would come when he (Gabriel) would have to commune with a great multitude of men and women. So, when he was seized by the bishops and the clergy for consecration as patriarch, Gabriel recalled the prophecy of the holy Dorotheus.
His only trouble at the outset of his patriarchate was with the custom of reimbursing the thousand dinar annuity to the people of Alexandria to take care of their religious institutions; he had nothing to give. Consequently he was forced to impose the payment of a gold carat a year from every episcopal diocese, which he used for paying the Alexandrians and for charitable causes. Presumably, however, a considerable part of that money was also used in paying the state taxes of the annual KHARAJ.
It is said that Gabriel spent most of his time as patriarch in the monasteries of WADI HABIB, and that whenever he went to Alexandria or wandered in the countryside he felt like a stranger. It is also stated that he was troubled by his youthful instincts and that he was advised by his elders to spend his energy in prolonged fasting. He even spent nights, concealed and unobserved, roaming around the monastic cells of the brethren cleaning and performing other physical chores in the service of others. In this way, and in all humility, he spent his eleven years as patriarch. He died in peace at the Monastery of Saint Macarius, where he was buried on 11 Amshir. He was a contemporary of the caliph al-Muqtadir (908- 932), a late Abbasid, but it is doubtful whether he had any encounters with the Islamic administration of Egypt beyond the payment of the kharaj and the poll tax (JIZYAH) levied on the Copts.
SUBHI Y. LABIB
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