St. Gabriel was born as Goderdzi Urgebadze in Tbilisi in the family of a Communist Party functionary, who was murdered in 1931. After a compulsory service in the Soviet army, he decided to join the monastic life and was ordained into monkhood under the name of Gabriel in 1955. He made himself famous by tearing down a banner depicting Vladimir Lenin during an International Workers’ Day parade in downtown Tbilisi in 1965. He was arrested, tried, ruled to be psychotic, and confined to a mental hospital for seven months.
St. Gabriel spent much of his later life at the convent of Saint Nino, a nunnery attached to the Samtavro church in Mtskheta, an ancient town north of Tbilisi. He died there in 1995 and was buried at the Samtavro churchyard.
“If you could see what grace descends during the Divine Liturgy in church, you would gather the dust and wash your face with it!”
-St. Gabriel of Samtavro